February 23 can be termed a black day in history for Punjab Police. It was on this day when supporters of Khalistani preacher Amritpal Singh broke into Ajnala Police Station to get Lovepreet Singh freed. The Punjab Police could not have felt so helpless ever while the Ajnala incident brought disgrace to the Bhagwant Mann-led AAP government as well. While the opposition parties criticised the Mann government, the chief minister maintained that the situation is under control. A week later, on March 2, CM Bhagwant Mann met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi laying the foundation for Amripal Singh’s arrest.
What Happened on February 23?
On February 23, self-styled Sikh preacher and Khalistan sympathiser Amritpal Singh and his supporters, some of them brandishing swords and guns, broke through barricades and barged into a police station in Ajnala, extracting an assurance from the police that his aide and kidnapping case accused Lovepreet Singh would be released. The Punjab Police said on February 24 that the demonstrators had used the holy Guru Granth Sahib as a shield and attacked police personnel in a cowardly manner, leaving six of them injured. Lovepreet Singh walked out of jail on February 24.
What Happened In March 2 Meeting Between Bhagwant Mann and Amit Shah?
During the meeting, Mann discussed the law and order situation with Shah. Mann reportedly told Shah about the circumstances leading to the Ajnala incident. The chief minister said he had discussed with the home minister the issue of drones and drugs along the border. He said the issue of shifting the barbed wire along the border was also discussed. Shah then ordered the dispatch of about 1,900 personnel of the CRPF and its specialised anti-riot unit to Punjab for strengthening the security grid. Out of the 18 continents, eight are drawn from the anti-riot Rapid Action Force (RAF) while the rest are regular ones. To maintain the secrecy of the operation, it was said that the companies will assist the state police in security duties during the three-day Sikh festival of ‘Hola Mohalla’ that was celebrated between March 8-10.
The central government officials had said the Union Home Ministry has been “closely monitoring” the situation in Punjab in the wake of renewed activities of some Khalistani supporters. Dubai-returned Amritpal Singh was last year anointed head of ‘Waris Punjab De’, which was founded by actor and activist Deep Sidhu who died in a road accident in February last year.
What Transpired After ‘Hola Mohalla’ Leading To Amritpal’s Arrest Today?
The Centre and the Punjab governments wanted the festival to happen peacefully. Meanwhile, the security agencies kept zeroing in on the movements of the Khalistani leader. The security agencies had planned to arrest the radical preacher after meetings of the G20 which concluded yesterday. Today, the Punjab Police in collaboration with the CRPF-RAF, launched a crackdown against radical preacher Amritpal Singh. Internet services were suspended across Punjab as police launched the crackdown.
Amripal’s cavalcade was intercepted by police in Mehatpur village in Jalandhar district today. Some supporters of ‘Waris Punjab De’ chief shared some videos on social media claiming that policemen were chasing them. A video also showed Amritpal sitting in a vehicle and one of his aides could be heard saying policemen were after ‘Bhai Saab (Amritpal). Another supporter in a field shared a video in which he was claiming that policemen were after him.
According to reports, Amritpal Singh was arrested by the Punjab Police after a dramatic chase while his convoy was on way to Jalandhar’s Shahkot tehsil. Amritpal tried to evade the escape but was surrounded and arrested following the chase.