A day after radical Sikh preacher Amritpal Singh allegedly released a video message appealing to Sikhs around the world to “unite for a larger cause”, an audio clip said to feature the Khalistani separatist has gone viral on social media platforms.
Amritpal Singh, who has managed to evade a massive manhunt by the police for 12 days, yesterday released a video which seems to confirm that he remains at large.
The video has been sourced through a foreign country, said sources, adding it appears to be two days old. UK handles have distributed Amritpal's video, said sources. The video emerged as sources in the police claimed Amritpal Singh had returned to Punjab and plans to surrender.
In the unauthenticated audio, a man can be heard speaking in Punjabi and claiming to be Amritpal Singh. The speaker denies claims that he had put forth some demands before the Punjab government for surrender. "These are all rumours. I have not put forth any demand for surrender before the government," he said. “I am not afraid of going to jail or police custody. Let them do what they want.”
The self-styled preacher, who supports a call for a separate homeland for Sikhs and is wanted for an armed raid on a police station last month, was said to be travelling to Amritsar through the villages of Hoshiarpur when the Punjab Police was tipped off about his presence in the area, sources said.
On Tuesday night, the police launched a massive door-to-door search operation in Hoshiarpur and neighbouring villages to catch him and his associates, who are accused in several criminal cases.
However, Amritpal Singh appeared to have escaped, ditching an Innova car at a gurdwara in the Maraiyan village of Hoshiarpur and fleeing into the fields. The police later recovered the car.
A cordon and search operation was launched in and around the village, while checkposts and barricades were raised on the roads to catch the suspects.
Sources said that Amritpal Singh was planning to give an interview to an international news agency before surrendering, but changed his mind after realising that he had no chance of escaping.
The Punjab Police have been under immense pressure to arrest him and his supporters after they revived memories of the 1980s Punjab insurgency, in which thousands died.
He went missing following a police crackdown against him and members of his pro-Khalistan 'Waris Punjab De' outfit on March 18, about three weeks after he and his supporters stormed the Ajnala police station near Amritsar to secure the release of an arrested man.
The preacher escaped the police dragnet in Jalandhar district, switching vehicles and changing appearances.
On Tuesday, a new video of Amritpal Singh with his key aide Papalpreet Singh surfaced on social media, showing the preacher without a turban and wearing a mask.
The undated CCTV footage, said to be from a market in Delhi, showed the fugitive walking down a street wearing dark glasses. Behind him, Papalpreet Singh could be seen walking with a bag.
The Punjab Police have not commented on the footage yet. A senior Delhi Police official said they are probing whether the persons seen in the video are Amritpal Singh and his aide.