Fugitive separatist Amritpal Singh, who was on the run for more than a month, has been arrested by Punjab Police. On its official Twitter account, Punjab Police posted at 7.45am today: “#AmritpalSingh arrested in Moga, Punjab. Further details will be shared by #PunjabPolice. Urge citizens to maintain peace and harmony. Don’t share any fake news, always verify and share.”
Amritpal was hiding in a gurdwara in Rode village in Moga and he will now be taken to Dibrugarh in Assam, where several of his aides are being held. These aides are held under the National Security Act (NSA), which allows for long detention.
There were early morning reports today that Amritpal surrendered to Punjab Police. However, in a media statement, Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Sukhchain Singh Gill said that Amritpal was arrested. “I want to clarify that he was arrested and did not surrender,” said Gill, also stating that Amritpal would be taken to Assam under NSA.
“Amritpal Singh has been arrested by Punjab Police at around 6.45am today in Rode village,” said the IGP, speaking to the media. He said that the arrest was made through a joint operation of Amritsar Police and the Intelligence Wing of Punjab Police. Amritpal was traced to Rode village based on intelligence inputs, so it was not a voluntary surrender.
Gill said that the police respected the gurdwara by not entering the premises, but Amritpal had “no chance to escape” since he was surrounded. Indeed, the entire village was cordoned off since morning, said the IGP.
Amritpal, a former Dubai-based NRI who fashioned himself in 2022 as the new Bhindrawale, the late leader of the militant Khalistan movement, has revived the violent theatrics around Khalistan. He is the current chief of the outfit called ‘Waris Punjab De’, whose members attacked a police station in Ajnala in February, armed with guns and swords.
They attacked the Ajnala police station demanding the release of Lovepreet Toofan, a close aide of Amritpal. A month after this, a coordinated manhunt was launched for Amritpal.
Also read: Police detain NRI Kirandeep Kaur, Amritpal Singh’s wife, at Amritsar Airport
Amritpal became the head of Waris Punjab De after the death of the previous chief, Deep Singh Sandhu. The latter had shot to the limelight during the January 2022 violence at Delhi’s Red Fort as part of the farmers’ agitation against the farm reform bills proposed by the Government of India. He died in a car accident in February 2022.
The appearance of Amritpal on the Indian scene was quite sudden, and he is believed to be a Pakistan-funded agent. It was reported on March 30 this year that Amritpal was in contact with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and that ISI would try to smuggle Amritpal out of India via Nepal. But India got in touch with Nepal and prevented this escape.
On March 31, reports emerged that Pakistan’s consul general in Toronto, Canada, a country with a large Punjabi population, had in mid-2022 met several Khalistan movement leaders, including Daljit Singh Kalsi, an Amritpal aide who is now in custody under NSA.