Explainer: The story behind fugitive Amritpal Singh

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While Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal Singh continues to elude the Punjab police, hundreds are behind bars ever since the crackdown started on March 18.

The National Security Act (NSA) has been imposed on four of his aides – Daljeet Singh Kalsi, Bhagwant Singh, Gurmeet Singh, and ‘Pradhanmantri’ Bajeka. They are currently being lodged in Assam’s Dibrugarh jail, while Amritpal Singh’s uncle Harjit Singh was arrested on Monday.

Amritpal Singh vs Punjab police

Amritpal Singh came into the national public eye when viral videos surfaced when his followers clashed with officials of Ajnala police station where one of his close aid Lovepreet Singh Toofan was lodged.

They broke the police barricades and attacked with sharp objects while using Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book for the Sikh community, as a shield.

Following a court’s order, Lovepreet Toofan was finally released on February 24. Pictures of him with Amritpal Singh along with other members visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar were shared on social media platforms.

The sudden meteoric rise of the Khalistani leader, now declared a fugitive by the Punjab Police is as interesting as how he evaded police arrest on Saturday.

‘Waris Punjab De’ 

Deep Sidhu
Deep Sidhu

Translated as ‘heirs of Punjab’, the organisation was founded by the late lawyer actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu on September 30, 2021.

Sidhu described the organisation as one that would protect and fight for the rights of the people of Punjab.

“This is for those who are not satisfied with the social reality of current Punjab. It is a social platform, not a poll gimmick. We are not supporting any political party. Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian, it is for all those who will fight with us for the rights of Punjab. Before 1947, we lived together in harmony, but the British snatched that brotherhood from us. Our Gurus fought against casteism,” Sidhu had said at the launch.

The Punjabi actor, who was arrested in connection with the violence at Red Fort during the 2020-2021 protest against the now-repealed controversial farm laws, died in a road crash near the Delhi border.

Who is Amritpal Singh

Born in Amritsar’s Jallupur Khera village in 1993, Amritpal Singh is a Dubai returnee hailing from a business family.

He describes himself as a Khalistani and influenced by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was killed during the Indian Army’s Operation Bluestar in 1984, finally leading to the assassination of India’s then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and ultimately the massacre of Sikhs.

Amritpal Singhs
Amritpal Singh before his transition as a radical leader

The once metrosexual Amritpal Singh now spots a heavy beard with a blue turban and is escorted by armed men.

Many say he copies Bhindranwale. However, in an interview, Amritpal Singh denied this but confessed he is inspired by him.

“Bhindranwale is my inspiration. I will walk the path shown by him. I want to be like him because that’s what every Sikh wants, but I am not copying him. I am not even equal to dust on his feet,” said Amritpal. 

After Sidhu’s death, Amritpal Singh took over the reins. The ‘Dastaar bandi’ ceremony (a formal Sikh baptism) in Bhindranwale’s ancestral village Rode of Moga district was held on September 29 last year.

Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale (left) and Amritpal Singh during ‘Dastaar bandi’ ceremony 

Amritpal Singh transformed Waris Punjab De’s ideology to an open call for a separate state and urged young Sikhs to take up arms to fight for their rights, dissimilar to Sidhu’s ideology. According to Amritpal Singh, a separate state is the ‘only’ solution for Punjab’s issues mainly drug abuse.

This is not Sidhu’s Waris Punjab De: Family

Deep Sidhu’s family has cautiously distanced themselves from Amritpal Singh and his organisation. According to them, they were unaware of his ascent.

Sidhu’s elder brother Mandeep Singh Sidhu told The Indian Express, “We never met him before. Deep too never met him. He was in touch with Deep over the phone for some time but later Deep blocked him. We do not know how he declared himself as head of my brother’s organisation. He is misusing our name to propagate anti-social activities. He somehow got access to my brother’s social media accounts and started posting on them.”

“My brother made this organisation for a social cause, to raise issues of Punjab and to provide legal aid to the needy, not to propagate Khalistan. Amritpal is talking about creating unrest in Punjab. He is befooling people using my brother’s and Khalistan’s name. My brother was not a separatist,” Mandeep was quoted by Indian Express.

#Explainer #story #fugitive #Amritpal #Singh

( With inputs from )

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