While the botched March 18 Punjab police operation to nail pro-Khalistan activist Amritpal is in hindsight, what is getting clearer with every passing day is, that the longer the Punjab police is taking to nab him, farther he might get from its dragnet, if the very rudimentary criminal jurisprudence is any yardstick. Sunday was the ninth day of his escape.
Crackdown launched to arrest Amritpal Singh
It was on March 18 that the Punjab police launched a massive crackdown to arrest Waris Punjab De (WPD) outfit head and Khalistan sympathiser Amritpal and his supporters, though it could arrest only some of them, except him. Till Sunday, the number of total arrested was 353.
Amritpal, who is on the run to this day, has been booked under stringent National Security Act (NSA) and at least six other cases since. Seven of his close aides have been held under NSA and taken to Dibrugarh jail in Assam.
Booked for assault and kidnapping in February
It was on February 16 that he and some of his aides were first booked for kidnapping and assault. On February 23, he stormed Ajnala police station in Amritsar along with hundreds of his supporters - many of whom were armed with guns and traditional weapons - for release of one of his close aides held in the February 16 case. Police force stood as mere spectators and several police personnel were injured by the WPD supporters. Put in poor light, the state police had then taken him and WPD on its radar.
On March 18, despite the police crackdown, he outraced police in its chase in Shahkot, Malsian and Mehatpur villages while hitting several private vehicles in Jalandhar district and stayed in that very vicinity till night when he also escaped the so-called heavy police vigil in the entire area.
Left from Kurukshetra on March 19
Though a variety of photos reportedly taken from CCTV cameras and other sources have surfaced, the authentic headway was made by Punjab police on March 23 with the help of Haryana police that the fugitive Amritpal and his close aide Papalpreet had stayed in the house of one Baljit Kaur in Shahbad town of Kurukshetra on March 19 and left it around 12.15 pm the next day. The Punjab police was already three days late in its pursuit. It is probably still without any clue about his whereabouts.
197 people released so far
Meanwhile, an official release said Sunday that the police had so far released 197 persons out of a total of 353 persons arrested under preventive sections of law since March 18. Director General of Police (DGP) Punjab Gaurav Yadav said that apart from the 353 persons arrested under preventive sections, 40 persons have been arrested under substantive criminal offences and seven persons have been detained under the National Security Act (NSA). The police planned to release others held for minor involvements soon.
Patiala woman held
Meanwhile, according to reports, the state police also arrested a woman from Patiala for giving shelter to Amritpal and his aide Papalpreet for about six hours on March 19. Identified as Balbir Kaur, the accused had reportedly harboured Amritpal and Papalpreet at her home in Hargobind Nagar. It was from here that the two had gone to Shahbad town of Kurukshetra district of Haryana.
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