The central security establishment has been nudging the Punjab government for long to initiate police action against Amritpal so as to check his emergence as a popular, radical Sikh rabble-rouser. The strongest nudge came when home minister Amit Shahconcerned at Amrit Pal’s rising popularity as radical Sikh leader and Punjab Police’s inept handling of the Ajnala incidentrecently summoned CM Bhagwant Mann and asked him to initiate strict action against elements trying to whip up separatist sentiments in the state. A day before meeting Mann, he had met Punjab governor on the same issue.
The assessment is that there is a strong case against Amritpal not only for fanning radical sentiments but also disrespecting the Constitution. He had in one of his statements said the Indian Constitution is nothing but a mode of perpetuating the slavery of Sikhs.
Another grave mistake he may have made is by threatening Shah of “a fate similar to Indira Gandhi” and Mann of “being on the path of ex-Punjab CM Beant Singh”.
It is alleged that Waaris Punjab De is receiving funds from Pakistani agencies and its earlier treasurer, Basant Singh Daulatpura, allegedly had known Pakistani links. Now, Amritpal has taken over the management of the accounts of WPD with his uncle’s help, making it a family affair,” an officer pointed out. Other “mistakes” that Amritpal may have made is disrespecting the Guru Granth Sahib by using it as a shield while protesting against the arrest of his aide accused of rape. “He delivers hukumnamas (orders) without following the Sikh Rehat Maryada and does not involve Panj Piyaras in decision making. He considers himself as the only saviour of Sikhism despite himself adopting Sikhism only six months back,” an officer said.
78 people arrested in action against Waris Punjab De group, Amritpal Singh still on the run: Punjab Police
Amritpal’s supporters had earlier vandalised property of gurdwaras. His ‘army’ indulged in violence — essentially to protest against chairs being placed in gurdwaras for the elderly, calling it an insult to the Guru Granth Sahib — without caring for action.
Inputs gathered by intelligence agencies since Amritpal became a “person of interest” upon being named as chief of Waaris Punjab De, point to Avtar Singh Khanda, a UK-based radical Sikh activist associated with Khalistan TV, as his main handler and also the architect behind his rise as a pro-Khalistan Sikh icon.
Khanda is said to be close to Khalistani terrorists Jagtar Singh Tara and Paramjit Singh Pamma associated with Babbar Khalsa International, designated as a terrorist outfit under UAPA. An IPS officer told TOI that these leaders have a big influence on Amritpal. Amritpal is also said to have links with Lakhbir Singh Rode, head of International Sikh Youth Federation. Rode is wanted in cases of arms and RDX smuggling, conspiracy to attack government leaders in New Delhi and spreading hatred in Punjab.
Punjab police cancel gun licence of Amritpal Singh’s aide, opposition mocks Mann govt
The central security establishment had been alerting Punjab government about Amritpal being groomed and planted by Pakistan-based masterminds to revive Sikh militant in the state. His styling himself as Bhindranwale — right from copying his looks, mannerisms to public statements to moving around with a private army of supporters — and his popularity on social media is not seen as “organic”. The assessment is that he may have been groomed by external forces like Pakistan’s ISI to make utterances and style himself after Bhindranwale so as to touch a chord with the Sikhs.