As the Baisakhi festival approaches, a high alert has been sounded across the state of Punjab to locate the fugitive pro-Khalistan radical preacher Amritpal Singh. In an effort to aid the search, all leaves for Punjab police personnel have been canceled until the festival, which is set to occur on April 14th. This measure has been taken in order to ensure that law enforcement is adequately staffed and prepared to respond to any potential threats or incidents that may arise during this time
With it, all the previously sanctioned leaves also stood cancelled, the order in the context said and asked all the police heads not to sanction any fresh leave till April 14, 2023.
Baisakhi, one of the biggest festivals of North India, marks the foundation of Khalsa panth (Sikhs religion) and also the beginning of harvest season when a large number of devotees throng Gurdwaras to offer prayers.
Steps to further intensify the vigil
The step to further intensify the police vigil has been taken in the background of an appeal made recently on video clip by Amritpal, who also heads ‘Waris Punjab De’ outfit, to Akal Takht – Sikhs’ highest temporal seat – to hold a ‘Sarbat Khalsa’ – calling upon the entire Sikh community for the congregation - on Baisakhi day to discuss various issues faced by Sikhs.
It was also speculated that he could surrender at any of historic Gurdwaras, especially the Golden Temple on or before Baisakhi. However, the state police has junked this information as false and a fake news.
Meanwhile, the Akal Takht head (Jathedar) Giani Harpreet Singh had pointedly announced on Thursday that there would be a three-day annual congregation at Takht Damdama Sahib (district Bathinda) to celebrate Baisakhi and not a ‘Sarbat Khalsa’. Takht Damdama Sahib is one of the five Takhts (or seats) of temporal authority of Sikhism.
Ruling AAP government at the centre of fire
He reiterated the same on Friday too. He also accused the ruling state Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government of trying to create a panic by increasing police deployment in and around Talwandi Sabo town (where Takht Damdama Sahib is located in Bathinda district) ahead of Baisakhi. The Jathedar also again asked fugitive Amritpal to surrender.
It may be recalled that Amritpal has been on the run since March 18, 2023, after police launched a crackdown to nail him and his supporters, though two videos and one audio clip have surfaced purportedly from his hiding. He was also accused of storming Amritsar’s Ajnala police station along with hundreds of his armed supporters on February 23, 2023, demanding the release of one of his aides booked in a case of assault and kidnapping.