Chandigarh, March 30
The Punjab government has informed the Akal Takht that 348 of the 360 people taken into preventive custody during a police crackdown against radical preacher Amritpal Singh have now been freed.
The Akal Takht Jathedar's personal secretary Jaspal Singh on Thursday said a message was received from the state government that the rest would also be released soon.
Earlier this week, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh had given an ultimatum to the state government to release all Sikh youths held during the police crackdown against Amritpal Singh and his aides.
The Jathedar had also condemned the state government for invoking the National Security Act against a few people during the police crackdown.
A few days prior to the Jathedar's ultimatum, the Punjab Police had said that out of those detained, nearly 30 were hardcore criminals. The rest would be released after verification, a senior police official had said.
Meanwhile, police have stepped up security in and around Amritsar and Bathinda amid reports that Amritpal Singh may surrender after entering any of the two Sikh shrines – the Golden Temple in Amritsar or the Takht Sri Damdama Sahib in Bathinda.
Vehicles are being checked at several places in other districts, including Hoshiarpur, in search of the head of 'Waris Punjab De'.
Amritpal, who has been on the run since March 18 when the police crackdown was launched, appeared in a video on Wednesday.
In the undated clip, he urged the Akal Takht to summon a "sarbat khalsa" – a congregation of Sikhs to discuss issues concerning the community.
The Punjab Police on Tuesday night launched a massive search operation in a Hoshiarpur village and many adjoining areas following inputs that Amritpal Singh and his aides could be in the area.
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