Release Amritpal supporters in 24 hours: Akal Takht to government
The Akal Takht, the top Sikh religious body, has given the Punjab government a 24-hour ultimatum to release the youths arrested as part of the crackdown on fugitive pro-Khalistan preacher Amritpal Singh. The jathedar, or head of the Akal Takht, Giani Harpreet Singh, issued a statement to the state and central governments, asking why similar action was not taken against those demanding Hindu Rashtra.
Why does this story matter?
- The Punjab Police have arrested 353 people on suspicion of being associated with Singh, who has been calling for a separate nation for Sikhs, over the last 10 days.
- On March 18, the government launched a manhunt to nab him, claiming that he was an agent of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) who was sent to India to incite unrest and increase cross-border drug trafficking.
Invoke NSA against those demanding Hindu Rashtra: Jathedar
Addressing a gathering of Sikh outfits, including intellectuals, lawyers, journalists, and religious and social leaders, to discuss the ongoing turmoil in Punjab, the Akal Takht jathedar questioned why the National Security Act (NSA) was slapped on those supporting Singh. He said there are lakhs of people in the country calling for Hindu Rashtra and that they should be charged under the NSA as well.
Akal Takht cautioned against any violent protest
The jathedar, however, cautioned people against violent protests and stated that they would petition the high court for the release of those arrested. The Akal Takht will take up the matter after Baisakhi, he said, adding, "We must not get aggressive but must answer them diplomatically." He further pointed fingers at mainstream news channels and the probe agencies, accusing them of spreading hate propaganda.
Akal Takht earlier urged Singh to surrender
Earlier, the Akal Takht asked Amritpal Singh to cooperate with the authorities and surrender. The jathedar also questioned the competence of the police for not being able to catch Singh. He also said the police must come clean if they had already arrested Singh, as alleged by his kin and his legal advisor. On Sunday, the police released 197 of the 353 arrested people.
Nepal puts Amritpal Singh on surveillance list
Meanwhile, Singh is said to have fled to Nepal, following which the Indian government urged authorities in the country to arrest Singh and not let him escape. Nepal has also put Singh on its surveillance list because he allegedly has multiple passports.