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Fugitive Khalistani Leader may be Hiding in Nepal

Fugitive Khalistani Leader may be Hiding in Nepal

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Mar 27: The Khalistani fugitive leader Amritpal Singh, who escaped from the police dragnet some 10 days ago, is believed to be hiding in Nepal. India has requested the Nepal government not to allow the radical preacher to flee to a third country and arrest him if he attempts to escape using an Indian passport or any other fake passport, a media report said on Monday.

In a letter sent to the Department of Consular Services on Saturday, the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu has requested the government agencies to arrest Singh if he tries to flee from Nepal, the media report said.

“Singh is currently hiding in Nepal,” the report said, citing a copy of the embassy letter. “The esteemed Ministry is requested to inform the Department of Immigration not to permit Amritpal Singh to travel through Nepal for any third country and arrest him if he attempts to escape from Nepal using Indian Passport or any other fake passport under intimation to this mission,” it said.

The letter and Singh’s personal details have been circulated to all the concerned agencies from hotels to airlines. Singh, who is said to be possessing multiple passports with different identities, has been on the run since March 18 when the police launched a crackdown against him.

The elusive preacher gave the police the slip and escaped their dragnet when his cavalcade was intercepted in Punjab’s Jalandhar district even as a “selfie” of the fugitive with aide Papalpreet went viral on social media on Monday.

The source of the “selfie”, where the duo is purportedly seen sitting on the roadside along a highway holding energy drink cans, was not known till the filing of this report, with top Punjab police officers saying they were not aware who released the photograph, triggering speculations that Amritpal or his aide may have released it themselves after reaching a “safe haven.”

Amid a crackdown against him and his aides on March 18, Amritpal had escaped before a police check post was set up in Moga district and reached Shahbad Markanda in Haryana on March 19. Between his escape and the time he reached Shahbad Markanda to stay at the house of a woman overnight, Amritpal dodged the police by changing his attire and also his vehicles – from Mercedes and Brezza to even a makeshift motorbike-driven cart.

The only details Punjab police are aware of his escape have been broadly based on the CCTV footage they accessed at various places and the information provided by the Haryana police about his overnight stay at Shahbad Markanda, which led to the arrest of 30-year-old Baljit Kaur who gave shelter to Amritpal and Papalpreet in Haryana and the arrest of 60-year-old Balbir Kaur from Patiala for helping the duo.

Intriguingly, before the “selfie” of Amritpal and Papalpreet went viral Monday, the last CCTV footage of the fugitive accessed by the Punjab police was of March 20 afternoon in Shahbad Markanda which they made public on March 23.

The Punjab police have invoked the stringent National Security Act against Amritpal and seven of his aides, who were arrested and sent to Dibrugarh jail in Assam. After making arrests en masse and amid opposition parties Shiromani Akali Dal and Congress questioning the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government and Punjab police over “indiscriminate” arrests of gullible youth, the police till Sunday released 197 out of 353 persons taken into preventive detention. The police Sunday also announced to review the status of 40 persons who were allegedly involved in criminal activities and formally arrested in First Information Reports (FIRs) lodged by the police, ahead of the crackdown and during the crackdown, against Amritpal and his supporters.

Meanwhile, Akal Takht chief Giani Harpreet Singh, who in a video message asked Amritpal to surrender, held a meeting with representatives of various Sikh organizations and Sikh intellectuals on the issue on Monday. After the meeting, the Akal Takht chief gave an “ultimatum of 24 hours to the Punjab government to release the innocent youths” and also said “Government should repeal NSA imposed on Sikh youths.” He also declared that “Khalsa Vaheer (a religious procession) will be carried out against drugs and patit (apostate) lifestyle under the leadership of Akal Takht Sahib to promote movement of Amrit Sanchar (baptism).” Ironically, Amritpal, who is wanted by Punjab police in a number of criminal cases now, had started the ‘Khalsa Vaheer’ focusing on Amrit Sanchar and against the menace of drugs.



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