‘You have 80,000 police personnel, how did Amritpal Singh escape?’, HC asks Punjab Police
The court remarked that if had escaped, it was an intelligence failure.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday remarked that it was an intelligence failure if Sikh leader Amritpal Singh managed to escape after being chased by security forces, , The Indian Express reported.
On March 18, the Punjab Police had launched a manhunt to arrest Amritpal Singh, the leader of Waris Punjab De. However, he managed to escape and has been absconding for four days.
The High Court on Tuesday questioned why Amritpal has not been taken into custody when the “entire police force” of Punjab was after him.
“You have 80,000 police,” Justice NS Shekhawat said. “How has he not been arrested? If he escaped, this is an intelligence failure.”
In response, Advocate General Vinod Ghai said: “It happens sometimes. The G-20 summit was also going on.”
Ghai also told the court that the National Security Act has been invoked against Singh.
The High Court told the Punjab government to file a status report on the matter, according to The Indian Express. It also appointed advocate Tanu Bedi as the amicus curiae – friend of court – to assist the bench in the case.
Amritpal and his supporters have been booked in several cases, including for storming a police station in Amritsar on February 23. After the manhunt began, the police also filed a fresh case against Amritpal Singh and some of his supporters for allegedly possessing illegal weapons.
Singh, who garnered a significant following through his speeches that often focussed on Punjab’s youth and religion, has also given several interviews supporting demands for Khalistan, an independent state for Sikhs.
The Punjab Police have arrested over 110 persons in connection with the crackdown on Amritpal Singh.
Meanwhile, the Punjab Police moved Amritpal’s uncle Harjit Singh to a jail in Assam’s Dibrugarh, reported PTI.
Harjit Singh was arrested on Monday after he surrendered before the police along with Amritpal Singh’s driver.
Harjit Singh is among the five persons charged under the National Security Act, which allows anyone to be put under preventive detention on the grounds of national security or public order. The other four are Daljit Singh Kalsi, Bhagwant Singh, Gurmeet Singh and “Pradhanmantri” Bajeka. They have also been lodged at the Dibrugarh central jail.
As the police crackdown had begun, mobile internet and SMS services were suspended across Punjab. The ban was extended twice till Monday noon.
On Tuesday, the Punjab Police decided to lift the ban, except in Tarn Taran, Ferozepur, Moga and Sangrur districts as well as Amritsar’s Ajnala sub-division and a few areas in Mohali. The ban will remain in these places till Thursday noon, reported PTI.
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said that action will be taken against anyone trying to disturb peace and harmony in the state.
Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal lauded Mann for responding to the situation “with restraint and maturity”.
Even as the Punjab Police have maintained that the Khalistan sympathiser is on the run, the legal advisor to Waris Punjab De claims that Amritpal Singh has been arrested at the Shahkot police station in Jalandhar.
The lawyer, Imaan Singh Khara, said that he has filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court demanding that the police should produce Amritpal Singh before court. He also claimed that there is a threat to his client’s life.
Amritpal Singh, 29, had taken over Waris Punjab De last year after the death of its founder Deep Sidhu, an actor and activist who died in an accident in February 2022. He has stylised himself after former militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
Explained: Who is Amritpal Singh and why is Punjab Police chasing him?