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Sikh separatist leader arrested by Indian police after weeks on the run

After weeks of evasion, Amritpal Sing has been captured by Indian police.

The 30-year old preacher, who is a Khalistan supporter and advocate for a separate Sikh Homeland, has been hiding since last month.

In February, hundreds of his supporters stormed the police station of Ajnala in Punjab, with wooden swords, guns and batons to demand that a jailed assistant be released.

Punjab State Police tweeted on Sunday that Singh was arrested in Moga.

Image: Waris Punjab De supporters at a rally held in Amritsar (India) last month

Singh surrendered before police officers after offering morning prayers in a Sikh temple.

Sukchain Singh said that officers had surrounded a local village after receiving intelligence that Singh would be at the shrine.

He told reporters that the “unrelenting pressure” applied by the police in the last 35 days had left him with no other choice.

Mr Gill stated that police did not enter into the shrine and suggested that Singh was taken in custody after he had left. However, he declined to confirm whether Singh had surrendered himself to police, as his supporters claimed.

Singh, according to the officer, was taken by air to Dibrugarh (northeast India) where he would be held until he could appear in court.

Punjab was the scene of a bloody rebellion in the 1980s, which culminated in the murder of Indira by her Sikh guards at her residence in New Delhi.

Her death sparked violent riots by her Hindu supporters in northern India against Sikhs.

Sikhs, a minority religion in India, believe that they are being discriminated against by Hindus. In the 1980s, extremists murdered more than 3,000 in the wealthy farming state before Indian forces crushed the insurgency.

Punjab shares a border with India-controlled Kashmir, and Pakistan. India accuses Pakistan of arming, training and supporting insurgents. Islamabad denies this.

Singh was declared afugitive in India by police who accused him spreading discord and creating unrest among the people of Punjab, as well as attempting murder, attacking officers, and obstructing their lawful duty.

Amritpal Sing?

Amritpal is a 30-year-old leader of Waris Punjab De.

He moved to Dubai to work in his family’s transportation business in 2012.

He came back to India in 2022 to take over leadership of the group from the actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu who died in a car accident.

Sidhu led a group of farm workers to storm the Red Fort on Republic Day 2022 in Delhi, it is believed. He was arrested and spent several months in jail for this action.

Singh, once he returned to Punjab, changed his appearance. He now wears a blue, un-shorn turban and traditional robes.

Singh and his supporters have been accused by the media of hate speech, violence and armed support.

He has spoken out about his support of Khalistan – the separatist movement that calls for a separate homeland/country/home for Sikhs. His Twitter account has been suspended as a result. Authorities have been closely monitoring his activities.

The state has been flooded with paramilitary troops, who have arrested almost 100 Singh supporters. His wife’s departure from India was also stopped last week.

Singh’s speeches are becoming increasingly popular with supporters of the Khalistan Movement, which is illegal in India. Officials view it as a threat to national security.

Singh is also the leader of Waris Punjab De or Punjab’s Heirs. This organisation was part a massive campaign to mobilize farmers against the controversial agriculture reforms that were being pushed forward by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

The movement has waned in recent years but still enjoys some support, both in Punjab and elsewhere, including Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom – all of which are home to a large Sikh diaspora.

Supporters of the movement smashed the windows of the high commission of India in London in protest against the arrest of Singh.


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