Massive search operation on to arrest fugitive Sikh radical Amritpal

Chandigarh, March 19 : Massive search operation continued on the second day on Sunday to arrest Sikh radical Amritpal Singh, head of 'Waris Punjab De', who has been declared a 'fugitive', a senior police official said. Jalandhar Police Commissioner Kuldeep Singh Chahal on Saturday night told the media that Amritpal Singh was declared a 'fugitive'. The police search operations are now mainly focused in Jalandhar district from where he managed to give the police a slip when it tried to intercept his vehicle to arrest him. Amritpal's father Tarsem Singh told the media 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 called the police action "unjustified" and said his son was weaning the youth off drugs. "Why the police were not acting against criminals and those involved in drugs," he asked. Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Chahal said Amritpal's six gunmen were nabbed. "A manhunt for Amritpal Singh is on and we are hopeful that he will be arrested soon. A total of 78 people have been arrested so far and further searches and raids are underway," he added. "During the state-wide operation, nine weapons, including one .315 bore rifle, seven rifles of 12 bore, one revolver and 373 live cartridges of different caliber have been recovered so far," the police said in a statement on Twitter on Saturday evening. "Waris Punjab De elements are involved in four criminal cases relating to spreading disharmony among classes, attempt to murder, attack on police persons and creating obstructions in the lawful discharge of duties of public servants. FIR stands registered for the attack on Ajnala Police Station," it added. A house-to-house search operation in villages in Nakodar in Jalandhar district was carried out throughout the night, said a senior official. Even the central paramilitary forces have been involved in the search operation. Meanwhile, internet services across the state were suspended as a precautionary step. Supporters of Amritpal Singh have been sharing videos of police vehicles chasing Singh's cavalcade. Anticipating a disturbance of peace, a large contingent of the paramilitary force was deployed outside his native village, Jallupur Khaira, in Amritsar district. A special team of the police, comprising personnel from seven districts, had followed the separatist leader's convoy while he was on his way to Jalandhar's Shahkot tehsil. They had closed on his vehicles two to three times but Amritpal Singh managed to escape. Section 144 has been imposed in many districts of the state. The police have also increased security in the state. In addition, all vehicles are being checked at the Punjab-Haryana border. Thirty-year-old Amritpal Singh, a pro-Khalistan fiery propagator and self-styled preacher, has been running 'separatist' propaganda through speeches. Three cases, including two of delivering hate speeches, have been pending against him. On the radar of Central investigating agencies, he has drawn comparisons to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale owing to his similar looks and donning a navy blue turban, a white chola, and a sword-sized kirpan. On February 23, an armed mob led by Amritpal Singh clashed with police and laid siege to a police station near Amritsar, demanding the release of one of their colleagues who had been taken into custody in an alleged kidnapping case. Six policemen were injured in the bloody clash. Police officials had later clarified that they were unable to control the crowd as they were carrying a physical copy of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, also called Bir in Punjabi, as a shield. /IANS


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