Chandigarh (IANS): Punjab Police continued their search for self-styled Sikh preacher and head of ‘Waris Punjab De’, Amritpal Singh, a Khalistan sympathizer, who has been declared a ‘fugitive’, for the second day on Sunday, with the police registering a fresh First Information Report (FIR) against him and his associates in an illegal weapons case.
The police have seized a huge cache of arms and ammunition from Amritpal’s aides, who were arrested on Saturday.
The police had on Saturday launched a major crackdown against Amritpal and arrested 78 members of Waris Punjab De, including six to seven gunmen of the radical outfit.
Daljeet Singh Kalsi, who handled the Khalistani ideologue’s finance, was arrested from Gurugram.
Seven of Amritpal’s associates, who were arrested for laying siege to a police station in Amritsar’s Ajnala area last month, have been sent to police custody till March 23 by a court in Beas.
Four aides of the absconding radical leader were taken to Dibrugarh in Assam for security reasons.
According to reports, the arrested persons might undergo interrogation by a joint team of Punjab and Assam Police.
“Punjab Police are acting within the law. Amritpal Singh is still absconding. Don’t believe in rumours and false news. We request all the citizens to maintain peace and harmony and not to panic,” a video statement by IG (Headquarters), Sukhchain Singh Gill, said.
To prevent any untoward incident in case of the arrest of Amritpal, the police along with CRPF personnel on Sunday conducted flag marches across Punjab.
Punjab Police are planning to book Amritpal Singh under the provisions of the National Security Act (NSA), sources privy to the development told IANS.
In the interest of public safety, the government has extended the suspension of SMS and mobile internet services, except voice call, till Monday noon.
Amritsar Deputy Commissioner of Police, Parminder Singh Bhandal, told the media that the police have set up 100 checkpoints in Amritsar and its outskirts to physically check vehicles. CRPF jawans are accompanying the policemen at the checkpoints.
Anticipating disturbance of peace, a large contingent of paramilitary force has been deployed outside Amritpal Singh’s native village, Jallupur Khaira in Amritsar district.
A special team of police, comprising personnel from seven districts, had followed the separatist leader’s convoy while he was on his way to Jalandhar’s Shahkot tehsil on Saturday.
“Amritpal’s vehicle was chased for 20-25 km. His vehicle was at the front. However, he managed to escape by changing his vehicle,” Police Commissioner Kuldeep Singh Chahal said.
Section 144 has been imposed in many districts of the state. The police have also increased security across Punjab. In addition, all vehicles are being checked on the Punjab-Haryana border.
Meanwhile, Amritpal’s father, Tarsem Singh, has told the media that the police should have arrested him before he left the house.
“We don’t have any information about his whereabouts. They carried out a search at our residence for 3-4 hours, but did not find anything illegal,” he said.
He also termed the police action as “unjustified”, claiming that his son was weaning the youth off drugs.
“Why are the police not acting against criminals and those involved in drugs trade,” he asked.
MEANWHILE, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Sunday issued notice to the Punjab government on a habeas corpus petition seeking issuance of directions to the Jalandhar Commissioner of Police and other officials to present alleged detainee Amritpal Singh “in the interest of justice”.
Justice N.S. Shekhawat fixed the case for further hearing on Tuesday.
Petitioner Imaan Singh Khara alleged that ‘Waris Punjab De’ chief Amritpal Singh had been illegally and forcibly detained by the police commissioner and other officials without any authority of law.
Directions were also sought for the appointment of a warrant officer to visit the “spot”.