Harjit Singh, the uncle of Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal Singh, was arrested along with his driver on the intervening night between March 19 and 20.
Harjit Singh had been travelling with Amritpal on Saturday when the police crackdown on the self-styled preacher began. DIG Jalandhar Range Swapan Sharma said they were arrested along with Amritpal’s Mercedes from the Shahkot area of the district.
Sources said Amritpal’s inflammatory speeches – in which he accused the government of disarming Sikh youth and inciting fear that this was being done to target the community eventually – at gatherings to garner support for the Khalsa Vaheer campaign and a strengthening AKF had become a cause for alarm for the Centre, which had been closely watching his rise.
Speaking to The Indian Express at 12.15 last night, Harjit Singh said that he is not an absconder and he has called the police. He said, “I have called DIG Narinder Bhargav, he is on his way.” Harjit Singh is a two-time Sarpanch of their native Jallupur Khera village
The hunt for self-styled radical Sikh preacher and head of Waris Punjab De Amritpal Singh has entered the third day.
A fortnight before the crackdown on Amritpal Singh on Saturday, concerns were raised about the Waris De Punjab leader’s statewide Khalsa Vaheer campaign, which was scheduled to be launched on Sunday, and his alleged private army, Anandpur Khalsa Force (AKF), at a meeting called by the Ministry of Home Affairs with intelligence agencies and Punjab Police officers.
Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal’s uncle Harjit Singh has said that they changed their route after being alerted of heavy police presence on Saturday (March 18) in Jalandhar.
Here is what he told The Indian Express on phone a little past midnight: “We started in four vehicles at about 8-815 am from our residence at Jallupur Khera. We were on our way to Moga. At about 11 am, when we were slightly short of Harike, somebody informed us that there was a heavy deployment of armed forces ahead. We apprehended there was something wrong and we turned back. Till that time, Bhai Amritpal was with me. I was driving the Mercedes. Later, we switched cars and turned towards Goindwal Sahib. We drove for about 40 kms before we [Amritpal and I] separated near Mehatpur village. I think that Bhai Amritpal has been detained by the police”, Harjit Singh told The Indian Express.
He added that when Amritpal’s cavalcade started from his residence this morning, there were two Ford Endeavours, a Mercedes SUV, another Endeavour that joined them later and an Isuzu pick-up vehicle followed by various other vehicles that he did not have information about. “I was driving the Mercedes till we found that police could apprehend us. Then Bhai Amritpal sat in another vehicle and that’s how we separated”.
Refuting the police’s claims of chasing Amritpal for 25 kms or Amritpal’s vehicle hitting motorists on his way, Harjit Singh said, “Not at all. There was no police vehicle chasing us. By the time, we separated, we had nobody behind us. It is just that we got the information that the police were waiting for us on the road ahead on our way to Moga and that is the reason we turned and changed our route.”
Amritpal Singh arrest: Habeas corpus plea alleges illegal detention
Taking cognizance of a habeas corpus petition against “illegal detention” of selfstyled radical preacher Amritpal Singh, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Sunday issued notice to the Punjab government seeking its response on the issue. The HC, however, has not appointed the warrant officer in the matter, as pleaded by the petitioner.