The followers of Amritpal Singh, the Khalistani separatist currently on the run, had led the police on a merry chase, finally entering a market from where they had to be hunted out one by one. While Singh managed to give police the slip, 78 of his associates were arrested, said the top cop leading the massive ongoing search operation.
“We had decided not to use lethal force in this operation… We chased him for 16-17 km. He took cover in a crowded place,” Swapan Sharma, the police chief of Punjab’s Jalandhar, told NDTV in an exclusive interview held during a flag march in the city today. “We are closing in on him… There are six or seven FIRs against him,” he added.
During the car chase on Saturday, Amritpal Singh’s supporters had deliberately crashed into motorbikes to divert police attention. Two vehicles of the convoy of “Waris Punjab De” chief have been seized by the police.
“We were directed to nab him (Amritpal Singh). While chasing, he ended up on a one-lane link road ahead of us. While outrunning us he crashed into several motorbike riders, some were with the motive to divert us from the chase,” Mr Swapan Sharma was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India today.
Senior police officer Kuldeep Singh Chahal has said that six to seven gunmen of Amritpal Singh are among those arrested. His close aide Daljeet Singh Kalsi, who handles his finances, was arrested this morning from Haryana’s Gurgaon.
The crackdown on Amritpal Singh and his supporters, who have been openly making secessionist statements, started after they broke into a police station with swords and guns to ensure release of one of them. Six police officials were injured in the clash.
The Punjab government had faced massive criticism for the law and order situation in the state after the incident.
Officials said Amritpal Singh has been maintaining close links with Pakistani intelligence agency ISI and terrorist groups based in foreign countries.