Amritpal Singh’s latest video statements suggest stage is set for surrender

Published : Mar 31, 2023 16:58 IST - 4 MINS READ

Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal Singh, who made a video appearance on March 30.

Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal Singh, who made a video appearance on March 30. | Photo Credit: PTI

Preacher calls for “Sarbat Khalsa” to mobilise people, dispel fears stoked by the government.

Khalistani separatist Amritpal Singh, who has been untraceable since March 18, has rubbished reports that he has fled the country, saying that he will appear before the world soon.

In a video appearance on March 30, he appealed to the Akal Takht jathedar, the acting head of the highest temporal seat of Sikhs, Giani Harpreet Singh, to carry out a “Khalsa Waheer” (religious procession) from Amritsar and conclude it on Baisakhi at Damdama Sahib, one of the five Takhts of Sikhism in Bathina, with a “Sarbat Khalsa” to mobilise people and dispel fears stoked by the government.

Sarbat Khalsa refers to the idea of a deliberative assembly of Sikhs in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib. The tradition was started by the Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh guru, before his death in 1708 and it continues to date whenever there is a need to take a unanimous decision on the sociopolitical and cultural challenges facing the community.

Also Read | Amritpal Singh: The story so far

Amritpal has sought a Sarbat Khalsa for the release of his associates currently lodged in Dibrugarh Central Jail in Assam and elsewhere. He said: “It is a test for him [Giani Harpreet Singh]. He faces allegations that he is supporting a political family. It is time to get rid of such allegations.”

Political storm

The police crackdown on the radical preacher and his supporters has triggered a political storm in Punjab. Amritpal’s video statements emerged a day after Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann accused Giani Harpreet Singh and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee of favouring the Badals. Mann also accused Harpreet Singh of “instigating” people by giving an ultimatum to the State government to release all those arrested during the police crackdown on Amritpal Singh.

The State government, however, has clarified that at least 348 out of 360 people taken into preventive custody have been released.

Ever since Amritpal escaped the police dragnet on March 18 after being chased by the Punjab Police for 25 km, several CCTV footages have surfaced showing the separatist roaming around in different States in different appearances.

After his reported presence in Haryana, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Nepal, paramilitary personnel and drones were deployed on March 30 in a village in Punjab’s Hoshiarpur district, where some suspects had abandoned their car following a police chase two days ago. Mann has also promised that no one would be tortured if Amritpal Singh surrenders.

In the first video statement from hiding, which was released on March 29, Amritpal claimed that the Punjab Police could have arrested him from his home if they had intended to do so. “The Almighty saved us from the attempt of lakhs of cops, who were sent to arrest me,” Amritpal can be heard saying in the video clip.

In his latest video appearance, the leader of Waris Punjab De reacted to the speculations that the previous video statement was recorded under duress from illegal police detention.

In the new video, he ruled out conspiracies. He said: “My health was down that day but I am in high spirits.” Describing his escape from the police as a “period of revolt”, he said: “Those who believe that I have become an absconder and have left my associates, they must not entertain this illusion. I do not fear death.” Looking subdued, Amritpal added: “I’m not afraid of arrest and I haven’t dictated terms for my arrest.”

Also Read | Amritpal Singh Sandhu: ‘Whether it’s going to be peaceful or violent depends on the state’

His latest video statements and viral audio clips are being seen as efforts to set the stage for his “surrender” with the supposed intervention of a tall religious leader in Punjab. Meanwhile, Lok Sabha member and Khalistan supporter Simranjit Singh Mann has said that the Amritpal should flee to Pakistan instead of surrendering to security forces.

Last week, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij alleged that the AAP-led Punjab government was not serious about arresting the secessionist campaigner.

While the Punjab Police was searching for Amritpal in Jalandhar, Vij told reporters that the latter was in Shahabad, Kurukshetra, on March 19. He was quoted as saying: “After we got the information [about Amritpal’s presence in Kurukshetra], we immediately intimated the Punjab Police but it took them more than a day to reach Shahabad. If he is most wanted and you are taking so much time in reaching a specific location despite getting information, then it all appears to be a political drama of the Punjab government.”

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