India police seek Sikh leader, arrest separatist supporters

New Delhi –

Indian police are hunting a separatist leader who has revived calls for an independent Sikh homeland, fueling fears of violence in northwestern Punjab with a history of bloody riots.

Police accused 30-year-old preacher Amritpar Singh and his aide of causing discord in a state haunted by memories of an armed rebellion against an independent Sikh state called Haristan in the 1980s. ing. According to official estimates, the riots sparked a controversial military operation by the Indian government that killed thousands.

Authorities have deployed thousands of militiamen to the state and suspended mobile internet services in some areas to prevent unrest. He said he had seized guns and ammunition.

Shin has been on the run since the search for him began on Saturday.

Singh, who said he supports the Kharistan movement, said in February when hundreds of his supporters stormed a police station in Punjab with swords and guns demanding the release of an imprisoned aide. garnered national attention.

Little is known about Singh, who spent years driving trucks in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He appeared in Punjab in his 2022 and began leading a march to protect the rights of Sikhs, who make up about 1.7% of India’s population.

His speeches have become increasingly popular among supporters of the Kharistan movement, which has been banned in India. Officials view it and related groups as a national security threat. Although the movement has waned over the years, it still enjoys some support, not only in the state of Punjab, but also in countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom, which have a sizeable Sikh diaspora.

On Sunday, supporters of the movement pulled down the Indian flag at the High Commission in London and smashed windows in the building in anger over the move to arrest Singh. It summoned the British Deputy High Commissioner in New Delhi to protest what it called a security breach at its embassy.

On Wednesday, police removed a temporary security barricade outside the British High Commission in New Delhi, news agency Press Trust of India reported. There was no immediate comment from police or the government on whether it was retaliation for the incident in London.

Supporters of the Kharistan movement also vandalized the Indian consulate in San Francisco on Monday.

Singh claims to have taken inspiration from Jalnail Singh Bindranware, a Sikh extremist leader accused by the Indian government of leading an armed rebellion in Haristan. Bhindranwale and his supporters were killed when Indian forces stormed his 1984 Golden Temple, Sikhism’s holiest temple.

Singh also named Waris Punjab De, or heir of the Punjab, who was part of a massive campaign to mobilize farmers against controversial agricultural reforms being pushed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. leading. The law triggered his year-long protests that began in 2020. Farmers, mostly Sikhs from Punjab, survived a harsh winter and a devastating coronavirus surge to set up camp on the outskirts of New Delhi. The protests ended after the Modi government withdrew his bill in November 2021.

Waris Punjab De was founded by Indian actor Deep Sidhu, who died in a car accident in 2022.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button