Amritpal Singh absconding or in police custody

According to reports, Khalistani leader Amritpal Singh was instigating Punjab youth to take up arms if necessary and be ready to die for the sake of creating Sikh homeland, Khalistan. Some reports suggest, he was targeting around 800-1000 youth to create Khalistani army called AKF or Anandpur Khalistan Force.

After he attacked a police station with his strong force of followers in February, the Authorities buckling to pressure to release one of his accomplices nabbed by the police, according to some inside reports, he really felt heartened and fearless and stepped up his activities delivering more intense and more frequent speeches to  incite the youth of Punjab against anyone who opposed the creation of Khalistan – the breaking up of India to break away the Indian state of Punjab.

When the police came after him on March 18, the same force which had capitulated only four weeks back, he was on his way to address another such gathering.

Amritpal was completely taken aback. Some suggest, some police insider informed him that they were after him and it was real.

One of Amritpal’s supporters went live on social media as police began their pursuit, and the car chase started going viral. Videos on social media show the chanting of “police is coming, police is coming after us…”.

Also read: Was Brisbane Khalistan referendum a flop?

Conflicting reports occupied the social media space where on one hand police claimed they failed to catch him while on the other hand Amritpal was seen swapping cars, having changed clothes, getting away on motorcycle (see image above).

Ever since the news of Amritpal Singh absconding broke, there have been constant claims made by his supporters and those of Khalistan supporters, particularly the outfit he represented – Warris Punjab De – that the Punjab Police is illegally holding him in custody and he had been arrested on March 18.

The Punjab and Haryana High is seized of the matter and questioned the efficacy of the state’s 80,000 police force which they said should have been able to arrest Amritpal.

Legal Secretary of the Warris Punjab De group, advocate Imaan Singh Khara has filed a Writ Petition (of Habeas Corpus) in the Punjab and Haryana High Court Chandigarh asking the court to order that Amritpal be produced and released from the police’s illegal detention.

Hearing the matter for the third time the High Court was told by the Punjab Advocate-General (AG) Vinod Ghai on Tuesday, March 28 that Amritpal Singh was not in state custody and the state police was close to arresting the pro-Khalistan activist.

Amritpal Singh’s lawyer Imaan Singh Khara told the court that Amritpal Singh was in fact being held by the state police albeit illegally and he was being detained at the Shahkot police station in Jalandhar district.

Advocate Khara submitted that they had CCTV footage of March 18.

Justice Shekhawat invited advocate Khara to produce substantive evidence that Amritpal was in fact in the custody,  ‘illegal’ custody of the Punjab Police.

Should there be credible evidence produced before the court, Justice Shekhawat said the court would appoint a warrant officer or even ask the CJM concerned to carry out a raid immediately.

Justice Shekhawat ordered that an affidavit by the IGP concerned be filed listing facts of the matter. Amritpal’s counsel Imaan Singh Khara will also place on record all available additional facts.

The hearing continues on Wednesday March 29 before Justice Shekhawat.

Amicus curiae Tanu Bedi is assisting the Bench on legal precedents in the matter.

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