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'Very serious': Central security agencies on Amritpal Singh's activities

'Very serious': Central security agencies on Amritpal Singh's activities

Amritpal Singh, along with his associates, at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Friday. Tribune Photo

Tribune News Service

Ajay Banerjee

New Delhi, February 25

Activities of “Waris Punjab De” head Amritpal Singh have been flagged as “very serious” development by the central security agencies. The siege of a police station in Ajnala to free his aide, Lovepreet Singh Toofan, is just one of the many issues.

Getting support from abroad

The route of funding is being ascertained. Amritpal Singh has been getting ideological support from radical elements based in the UK and Canada, besides small pockets in Europe. A source

No cult following

Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal does not have the cult following enjoyed by Bhindranwale so far. An official

A probe is underway to check, who is funding him, and in what manner. “The route of funding is being ascertained,” said a source, adding that Amritpal had been getting ideological support from radical elements in the UK and Canada, besides small pockets in Europe.

A plethora of automatic weapons, including AK-47 assault rifles, carried by Amritpal’s supporters are being studied for their origin. Even his social media campaigns and how his followers operate are being looked at.

Sources said the fact that Amritpal’s supporters took a “saroop” of Guru Granth Sahib to the Ajnala police station, showed a sharp presence of mind. The Punjab Police could not have “attacked” the protesters standing behind the “saroop”. Had the Guru Granth Sahib faced any “insult”, it may have given Amritpal and his armed supporters a fresh fodder. Ajnala is just 15 km from the India-Pakistan border.

Notably, Amritpal has been openly advocating a separate homeland for the Sikhs. Almost like what Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale did in early 1980s. However, equating him with Bhindranwale would be too early, said an official, adding that “Amritpal, as of now, does not have the cult following enjoyed by Bhindranwale”.

Amritpal’s sudden emergence is a cause for concern and is adding fuel to the fire that had been dormant since 1996 or about a year after Chief Minister Beant Singh was assassinated in a bomb blast at the Secretariat Complex in Chandigarh on August 31, 1995.

The central agencies have mapped the life journey of Amritpal from the time he left Punjab as a clean-shaven youth to earn a living in the UAE. Amritpal got baptised and found his new thoughts before returning to India.

Recently, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had sounded confident that the Centre would counter the spurt in radical movement.

Moreover, the National Investigation Agency is probing cases relating to the gangster-terrorist nexus. Some of them are getting linked to Pakistan intelligence agency ISI and its attempts to revive Khalistan movement in Punjab by using gangsters.

A senior official said, “It is time to have a very close operational coordination between the Punjab Police and the Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing and National Technical Research Organisation, among others.”

Smooth coordination for operations existed from mid-1980s onwards till the militancy was curbed in the mid-1990s, said the official, adding that those were the times when Operation Black Thunder was conducted in two phases (April 1986 and May 1988). Operation Rakshak and night dominance were also conducted in two phases in 1991 and again in December 1992 after the Beant Singh’s government was formed.

Several IPS officers were part and parcel of not just these operations, but for day-to-day procedures. Many of them won gallantry awards.

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