Punjab Police looking for Khalistani leader, 4 of his associates have left for Assam
In a highly unusual development amid a largely coordinated crackdown between the Centre, Punjab and Assam governments against Khalistani separatist leader Amritpal Singh, who is still absconding, four of his top arrested aides have been taken to Dibrugarh in Upper Assam. Top police sources said that by a special Air Force aircraft. They will be kept in the high security Dibrugarh Central Jail.
The hardline leader’s aides were accompanied by a 30-member team of the Punjab Police, including its Inspector General, Prisons. He took off from Amritsar in an Indian Air Force AN32 aircraft and reached Dibrugarh via Jorhat, which is also in Assam. Both Dibrugarh and Jorhat are major air force bases.
Dibrugarh District Collector and the local Superintendent of Police received the team at the Mohanbari airport amid tight security.
Dibrugarh Central Jail is one of the oldest prisons in Northeast India. It is heavily fortified, and was used to house top militants during the peak of ULFA insurgency in Assam.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said it was just “police-to-police” cooperation. “Arrests also happened in Assam when we sent people to Bhagalpur Jail in Bihar for security reasons. Perhaps the Punjab Police felt that the prisoners should be kept in Assam for a few days,” he said.
Officials said the Punjab Police has so far arrested 78 members of Amritpal Singh’s outfit ‘Waris Punjab De’, while several others have been detained for questioning. His father has also been detained for questioning, and there is a heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces outside his village, Jallupur Khaira, in Amritsar.
Jalandhar Police Commissioner Kuldeep Singh Chahal said, “Amritpal Singh’s six to seven gunmen are among those arrested by the police.”
Daljit Singh Kalsi, a close aide of the self-styled preacher, was also arrested from Gurgaon in Haryana this morning.
Sources say that Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann discussed the plan to arrest Amritpal Singh with Home Minister Amit Shah in a meeting on March 2.
Internet and SMS were snapped across Punjab on Saturday after Amritpal Singh’s aides circulated a frenetic video urging his supporters to gather at the village where police had trapped him. Internet and SMS ban has been extended for one more day till 12 noon on Monday.