New Delhi: Authorities in India have apprehended Amritpal Singh, a Sikh separatist who had evaded capture for over a month, according to an announcement made by a senior state police officer on Sunday. The arrest comes amidst concerns over the resurgence of a movement for an autonomous Sikh homeland, Khalistan, in the Punjab region adjacent to Pakistan.
Singh, a religious leader from the northwestern state of Punjab where Sikhs form the majority, has been associated with renewed discussions surrounding Khalistan and has raised concerns about potential violence reminiscent of the Sikh insurgency during the 1980s and early 1990s, which resulted in tens of thousands of casualties.
“Amritpal Singh was detained in Rode village, located in Punjab’s Moga district, based on specific intelligence,” Punjab police’s high-ranking officer Sukhchain Singh Gill informed the media.
The 30-year-old Amritpal Singh, who heads a group called Waris Punjab De (Heirs of Punjab), was arrested following an incident in which he and numerous followers, armed with swords and guns, stormed a police station to demand the release of one of his associates.
Authorities have charged Singh and his supporters with attempted murder, obstruction of justice, and inciting discord. Singh had been evading law enforcement since mid-March.
Singh was apprehended in a gurudwara, a Sikh temple, under the provisions of the National Security Act, which permits detention without formal charges for up to a year for individuals perceived as threats to national security. According to the police official, he will be transferred to Dibrugarh in the state of Assam, where some of his associates are already in custody.