Separatist chief Amritpal Singh has been arrested by Indian police after weeks on the run.
The 30-year-old preacher is a supporter of the Khalistan motion for a separate Sikh homeland and had been on the run since last month.
He captured nationwide consideration in February when a whole lot of his supporters stormed a police station in Ajnala, a city in Punjab state, with wood batons, swords and weapons to demand the discharge of a jailed aide.
On Sunday, Punjab state police tweeted that Singh had been arrested within the city of Moga.
Singh reportedly surrendered to police after providing morning prayers at a Sikh shrine earlier than officers arrested him.
Police officer Sukchain Singh Gill stated officers had surrounded the native village on intelligence that Singh was within the shrine.
“Relentless strain constructed by the police over the previous 35 days left Singh with no alternative,” he advised reporters.
Mr Gill stated police didn’t enter the shrine, suggesting that Singh was taken into custody after he left, however declined to verify that Singh surrendered to police as claimed by his supporters.
The officer stated Singh was flown to Dibrugarh in northeast India the place he shall be detained till he’s taken to courtroom to face costs.
Punjab suffered a bloody insurgency within the Nineteen Eighties that resulted within the killing of former prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards at her official residence in New Delhi.
Her killing sparked violent rioting by her Hindu supporters in opposition to Sikhs in northern India.
Sikhs are a spiritual minority in India and imagine they’re discriminated in opposition to by nearly all of Hindus. Extremists killed greater than 3,000 individuals through the Nineteen Eighties insurgency within the affluent farming state – earlier than the insurgency was crushed by Indian forces in 1990.
Punjab borders India-controlled Kashmir and Pakistan. India has accused Pakistan of supporting, coaching and arming insurgents – which Islamabad denies.
Singh had been declared a fugitive by Indian police, who accused him of making discord in Punjab state in addition to spreading disharmony amongst individuals, tried homicide, attacking police personnel and obstructing public servants’ lawful discharge of responsibility.
Who’s Amritpal Singh?
Amritpal Singh is the 30-year-old chief of the organisation Waris Punjab De (Heirs of Punjab).
Not a lot is thought about his adolescence however he moved to Dubai in 2012 to work for his household’s transport enterprise.
He got here again to India in 2022 to take over management of the group from the actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu who died in a automobile accident.
Earlier than his loss of life Sidhu is believed to have led a bunch of farmers to storm the Pink Fort in Delhi on the Republic Day of 2022. He was arrested for the motion and spent a couple of months in jail.
As soon as he was again in Punjab, Singh modified his look and began sporting a blue turban, conventional robes and has a protracted, unshorn beard.
Singh has been accused of utilizing hate speech and his armed supporters have been accused of violence.
He has been outspoken about his help for the reason for Khalistan, the separatist motion calling for a separate homeland/nation for individuals of Sikh religion. On account of this, his Twitter account was suspended by authorities who’ve additionally been watching his actions fastidiously.
Hundreds of paramilitary troopers have been deployed within the state and have arrested practically 100 of Singh’s supporters, whereas his spouse was stopped from leaving India final week.
Singh’s speeches have turn out to be more and more widespread amongst supporters of the Khalistan motion, which is banned in India, with officers viewing it as a nationwide safety risk.
Singh additionally heads Waris Punjab De, or Punjab’s Heirs, an organisation that was a part of an enormous marketing campaign to mobilise farmers in opposition to controversial agriculture reforms being pushed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s authorities.
Regardless of the motion waning in recent times, it nonetheless has some help in Punjab and past – together with in nations like Canada, the US and the UK, house to a large Sikh diaspora.
In the meantime, supporters of the motion pulled down the Indian flag on the nation’s excessive fee in London final month, earlier than smashing the constructing’s home windows in a present of anger in opposition to the transfer to arrest Singh.