Punjab Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Amritpal Singh Campaigns In Khadoor Sahib Seat From Dibrugarh Jail

Punjab Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Amritpal Singh Campaigns In Khadoor Sahib Seat From Dibrugarh Jail

Amritpal was arrested after a manhunt that lasted a month. This was after he and his aides stormed the Ajnala police station in Amritsar on February 23 with weapons, demanding the release of one of his aides booked for assault and abduction.

Rajesh MoudgilUpdated: Wednesday, May 29, 2024, 11:15 AM IST
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Waris Punjab De chief and radical preacher Amritpal Singh | ANI

Chandigarh: Khadoor Sahib Lok Sabha constituency is probably the most keenly watched seat in Punjab, as it is from here that the pro-Khalistan preacher Amritpal Singh, who is currently lodged in Dibrugarh jail, Assam, under the National Security Act (NSA) is contesting in absentia as an independent candidate.

Arrest Of Amritpal Singh

Amritpal was arrested after a manhunt that lasted a month. This was after he and his aides stormed the Ajnala police station in Amritsar on February 23 with weapons, demanding the release of one of his aides booked for assault and abduction. Now he and nine of his associates have been booked in several criminal cases related to spreading disharmony among classes, attempts to murder, attacks on police personnel, and creating obstructions in the lawful discharge of duty by public servants.

Amritpal, therefore, cannot campaign in person. That part is being done by his parents. His absence from the field has not prevented his followers and supporters from growing in both strength and numbers. His campaign received even more wind in its sails after the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) sitting MP from Sangrur seat, Simranjit Singh Mann, also a pro-Khalistan leader, withdrew his candidate in support of Amritpal.

Campaigning for Amritpal, his supporters portray him as an ``anti-drug crusader’’ and recall campaigns he conducted against drugs. In Punjab, the spectre of drugs throws a long shadow.

A Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale acolyte, Amritpal’s supporters and sympathisers maintain radio silence on the issue of Khalistan or distrust in the Constitution of India, preferring instead to highlight his mission against drugs. His parents, Tarsem Singh and Balwinder Kaur, hold meetings in gurdwaras, and now several gurdwaras’ granthis raise their voice in support of Amritpal, as do many panchayat members across the constituency.

About The Khadoor Sahib Lok Sabha Constituency

Khadoor Sahib Lok Sabha constituency, traditionally a panthic seat (to do with matters relating to the Sikh religion), is the same seat (then Tarn Taran constituency) from where former IPS officer Simranjit Singh Mann had won in 1989 during the peak of the terrorism in Punjab, a campaign he fought in absentia. However, later, the voters chose Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidates.

The current constituency came into being in 2008. Importantly enough, this seat, which has the highest number of Sikh voters (about 75%) in the state, is the only one that spans the regions of Malwa, Doaba, and Majha, and is called ``mini-Punjab’’.

Meanwhile, the SAD has fielded Virsa Singh Valtoha, a firebrand Akali leader and a two-time MLA, who has also been highlighting ``panthic’’ issues and the bias of the governments against Sikhs. Though he does not name Amritpal, he is heard telling his gatherings that he too had faced the NSA and fought big battles for the ``Panth’’.

What makes the fight interesting is that Valtoha was close to Khalistan ideologue Bhindrawale. Besides Valtoha, also in the fight is the ruling Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP’s) transport minister, Laljit Singh Bhullar. To his advantage are the seven of the total nine MLAs of assembly segments falling in this seat. While one of the remaining two seats belongs to Congress, the other, is an independent MLA.

Also in the fight is Kulbir Singh Zira of the Congress a sitting MLA from Zira, after its sitting MP Jasbir Gill opted out of the race. The BJP has fielded Manjit Singh Mianwind. All of them highlight the issues of rampant drug abuse, conversions, the poor state of affairs in education, health services, and the scarcity of potable water.

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