The Punjab and Haryana High Court has criticized the Punjab government for failing to capture Khalistani leader Amritpal Singh despite a massive manhunt that has been ongoing since Saturday. The court asked the government how Singh managed to escape despite having 80,000 police personnel at their disposal.
The court demanded a status report of the operation and also asked why the National Security Act was imposed. A habeas corpus plea was filed by Iman Singh Khara, the legal adviser to the Waris Punjab De, alleging that Singh was in the ‘illegal custody’ of the police. The court questioned why Singh remained at large despite a ‘well-planned operation’ and additional security deployed for the G20 summit in Amritsar.
Punjab Police have arrested over 100 people and seized several of Singh’s vehicles in their hunt for him. Security personnel have been stationed at his hometown and international border crossings, particularly those with Nepal and Bangladesh, have been notified. Singh, who claims to be a follower of Khalistani separatist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and is often seen escorted by heavily-armed supporters, was dubbed ‘Bhindranwale 2.0’. Last month, Singh and his supporters broke into a police station seeking the release of one of his close aides.
In his first public statement since the operation was launched, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann warned of action against those trying to disrupt peace and harmony in the state. His statement and efforts to capture Singh were praised by AAP boss and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who also flagged Mann’s ‘mature’ handling of the situation.
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