The dramatic arrest of a radical preacher and Khalistani separatist, Amritpal Singh, in Punjab today came days after Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann met with Home Minister Amit Shah. They reportedly discussed it during their meeting on March 2, people with direct knowledge of the matter said, asking not to be named.
Amritpal Singh, who was at the centre of a massive protest against the arrest of his key aide last month, was arrested by the Punjab Police while he was being driven in a convoy to Jalandhar. A man who roams around with armed guards, his supporters call him “Bhindranwale 2.0”, referring to the Khalistani separatist and terrorist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
The centra sent extra forces to Punjab ahead of his arrest, sources said. The plan was to arrest the radical preacher after meetings of the G20 ended in the state, which was yesterday. Within 24 hours, the police caught Amritpal Singh.
A Lok Sabha by-election is also scheduled in Jalandhar, where Amritpal Singh was heading today, after the death of Congress MP Santokh Chaudhary.
On March 2, the Punjab Chief Minister had tweeted that he met the Home Minister and both the state and the centre agreed to work together on the issue of law and order.
Amritpal Singh’s arrest brings to national attention a festering problem in Punjab where radicals like him, backed by a large supporter base, makes it difficult for law enforcers to do their duty.
Amritpal Singh heads “Waris Punjab De”, a radical organisation started by actor and activist Deep Sidhu, who died in a road accident in February last year.
Amritpal Singh claims to be a follower of the terrorist Bhindranwale and has made controversial speeches in the past few months. He is married to a UK-based non-resident Indian, Kirandeep Kaur.