New Delhi: Radical preacher Amritpal Singh was arrested in Punjab’s Moga district on Sunday after police personnel surrounded him, leaving him with no chance to escape, a senior police official said. Briefing the media after the pro-Khalistani leader’s arrest, who was on the run for more than a month, Inspector General of Police (IGP) of Punjab, Sukhchain Singh Gill, said Amritpal was arrested at around 6:45 am from village Rode and has now been taken to Dibrugarh in Assam.
“National Security Act (NSA) warrants were issued against Amritpal Singh and these have been executed today morning. Further law will take its own course,” Sukhchain Singh Gill told the news conference.
He added that a joint operation was conducted by the Amritsar Police and the intelligence wing of the Punjab Police.
“He was located in village Rode based on operational inputs by Punjab Police. He was surrounded from all sides, the village was surrounded by Punjab police,” Gill said.
The police personnel did not enter the gurudwara in which Amritpal was present to maintain its sanctity.
“To maintain sanctity, the police did not enter the gurdwara and since he knew that he had no way to escape now, he was surrounded by Punjab Police. The village was surrounded by Punjab Police from all sides,” he said.
Earlier in the day, a video that surfaced on social media showed Amritpal Singh purportedly addressing a gathering at a gurdwara in Rode village in Moga. The video clip also showed him saying that he was ‘surrendering’.
“It is the birthplace of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. This is the place where my ‘dastar bandi’ (turban tying) ceremony was held. We are standing at life’s critical juncture. During the past one month, whatever took place, you have seen that’s all,” he could be heard saying in the video.
A month back, ‘excesses’ were unleashed by the government against Sikhs,” he said.
“Had it been only the question of (my) arrest, then perhaps there were many ways of arrest and with which, I would have cooperated,” Singh said.
A few pictures of the radical preacher while being taken into custody also surfaced on social media in which he could be seen wearing a traditional white robe.
Crackdown against Amritpal Singh started last month.
A massive crackdown was launched against Amritpal Singh on March 18 after the Ajnala police station was stormed by him and his supporters to secure the release of an arrested associate.
In February, Amritpal and his supporters, some of them brandishing swords and guns, broke through barricades and barged into the Ajnala Police Station on the outskirts of Amritsar city, and clashed with police for the release of one of his aides.
He had earlier escaped the police dragnet twice — first on March 18 in Jalandhar district by switching vehicles and then again on March 28 in Hoshiarpur when he returned to Punjab along with his key associate Papalpreet Singh.
Papalpreet, who is said to be Amritpal’s mentor and who has allegedly been in contact with Pakistan’s ISI, has already been arrested.
Nine of Amritpal’s aides — Daljit Singh Kalsi, Papalpreet Singh, Kulwant Singh Dhaliwal, Varinder Singh Johal, Gurmeet Singh Bukkanwala, Harjit Singh, Bhagwant Singh, Basant Singh and Gurinderpal Singh Aujla — have also been lodged in Dibrugarh jail in Assam and charged under the stringent NSA.