The release of radical preacher Amritpal Singh’s aide, Lovepreet Singh from Amritsar Central Jail on the local court's order, questions have risen on Punjab Police and the situation of law and order in the state.
Hundreds of Amritpal’s supporters seeking his release had stormed the Ajnala police station near Amritsar with swords, guns and demanded release of Lovepreet. From what appeared to be a minor commotion turned into a serious law and order situation with the protestors breaking the barricade and storming into the police station.
The incident left six policemen injured while a few vehicles were damaged, police added.
The supporters of Amritpal Singh had sought police permission to stage the protest in Amritsar on February 24, which was granted by the police. However, the protest turned violent and the situation worsened till the release of Lovepreet.
In back-channel talks with Amritpal on February 22, the police were assured he and his supporters would stay 50 feet behind the last barricade in front of the Ajnala police station.
However, the numbers of protestors that gathered left policemen few in number and within minutes the crowd broke through the barricade in the heat of the moment.
The Punjab Police had to take a step back with the protestors taking the cover of Palki Sahib of Sri Guru Granth Sahib as a shield to break the barricade.
Punjab DGP Gaurav Yadav Friday said, “The demonstration was permitted… (but) under the cover of Palki Sahib of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji, police were attacked in a cowardly manner.” This left six personnel injured.The police acted with utmost restraint due to the maryada of Guru Granth Sahib and preserved it. Had police opened fire, it would have led to more issues. We have acted with restraint on account of the presence of the holy Guru Granth Sahib".
As per the case details, the protest was the fallout of the FIR registered against Amritpal Singh and others on February 16 at the Ajnala police station. The FIR named Amritpal Singh and five others and booked them under sections related to kidnapping, snatching and voluntarily causing hurt.
The FIR was registered on the complaint of Varinder Singh, a Sikh preacher and former supporter of Amritpal from Salempur village in Ropar district, who alleged that he was kidnapped when he arrived in Ajnala at the headquarters of the Damdami Taksal Ajnala, a sect run by Amreek Singh Ajnala, and was allegedly tortured by Amritpal’s supporters before being released. Amritpal has had several run-ins in the past with Ajnala.
The Dubai-returned Amritpal had made a dramatic emergence on the scene on September 29 last year, when he turned up at Rode village of Moga district, the ancestral village of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and took over as head of ‘Waris Punjab De’, a “social” outfit floated by lawyer-actor-turned-activist Sandeep Singh alias Deep Sidhu on September 30, 2021, ahead of the Punjab Assembly elections. The ‘Dastaar bandi’ ceremony to mark the occasion was witnessed by thousands who raised pro-Khalistan slogans.
The latest case, prompted by his rivalry with the Ajnala group, and the increasing criticism Amritpal was facing from within the community for his pro-Khalistan speeches, however, gave the police just the opportunity it was waiting for to act against the radical leader.
A day after the FIR was filed, the Amritsar rural police conducted raids on the houses of Amritpal’s supporters, after which he sent out a call to his supporters to reach Ajnala police station. However, he later dropped the plan and told his supporters that their next course of action would be decided at Budh Singh Wala village at Moga on February 19, on the death anniversary of Deep Sidhu.
However, with the turnout not meeting his expectations, Amritpal allegedly told the gathering that police have assured him that the issue would be solved by February 22.
The police had arrested two persons after the primary investigation where the first one was let off while Lovepreet Singh was sent to judicial custody after a day’s police remand. Amripal Singh who was named as the main accused in the case was not arrested by police though.
Amritpal Singh claims to be a follower of slain terrorist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Amritpal had also also allegedly made some controversial speeches during the past few weeks.
Hailing from Jallupur Khera village in Amritsar, Amripal moves around with armed men like slain terrorist Bhindranwale. Some of his supporters call him "Bhindranwale 2.0".
The Punjab Police however have registered a case regarding the clashes in Amritsar and stated that proper action would be taken against the rioters. The