Hunt For Amritpal: Pro-Khalistan Preacher Declared 'Fugitive'; Four Associates Reportedly Transported From Punjab To Assam

Hunt For Amritpal: Pro-Khalistan Preacher Declared 'Fugitive'; Four Associates Reportedly Transported From Punjab To Assam

by Tushar Gupta - Feb 23, 2023 09:41 AM +05:30 IST
Hunt For Amritpal: Pro-Khalistan Preacher Declared 'Fugitive'; Four Associates Reportedly Transported From Punjab To AssamAmritpal Singh Sandhu

19 March: A fresh FIR was lodged against Khalistan-sympathiser Amritpal Singh and some of his associates on Sunday in connection with the possession of illegal weapons, a senior police officer said.

On late Saturday night, Jalandhar Police Commissioner Kuldeep Singh Chahal told reporters that: “He is now a fugitive and we are looking for him and we will soon arrest him".

Meanwhile, four associates of Amritpal were flown to Dibrugarh by a special Air Force aircraft and are expected to be kept at Dibrugarh Central Jail, according to reports.

A 27-member Punjab Police team, including the IG Jail, is accompanying them.

(With inputs from PTI).

18 March: In a major crackdown against Waris Punjab De Head Amritpal Singh and his supporters on Saturday, the Punjab police have reportedly detained six of his associates. A tense car chase broke out this morning, as the police tried to capture Amritpal. However, he managed to escape authorities.

As per reports, internet has been suspended in the state until Sunday noon (March 19).

14 March: The AAP made headlines, given the budget size was Rs 1.96 lakh crore. However, the state government is banking on borrowings (close to Rs 90,000 crore) to sponsor a larger part of its budget, further aggravating the debt crisis.

As per most experts, from within and outside the state, the government must look at avenues to increase the revenue from taxes, encourage more private sector enterprise in the state, and go easy on the expenditure pertaining to subsidies, especially in the power sector.

Eight Key Takeaways From The Punjab Budget 2023-24

10 March: Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema presented a Rs 1.96-lakh-crore state budget for 2023-24 in the assembly here on Friday with a focus on agriculture, education and health segments.

The state budget was delayed after a brief war of words between the Lt Governor and the Chief Minister.

However, beyond the announcements, the state's finances are in serious trouble.

Imminent Economic Disaster: Why Punjab Is Another Sri Lanka In The Making

9 March: Punjab’s public debt is likely to cross Rs 5 lakh crore in 10 years. This fact came to the fore in a report on ‘State Finances’ for 2021-22 prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General and tabled in the Assembly on Tuesday.

7 March: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has flagged the “misuse and uneven distribution” of the Central Road and Infrastructure Fund (CRIF) in Punjab, claiming 60 per cent of the grant was spent in former PWD Minister Vijay Inder Singla’s home district Sangrur. Singla is a member of the Indian National Congress.

Yesterday, a 16-member committee formed by Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh to discuss whether a ‘saroop’ of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib could be carried to sites of demonstration, protest and dharna in the wake of Ajnala violence.

The report would now be handed over to the Akal Takht Jathedar in a week, following which the findings will be considered by the five Sikh high priests.

3 March: To discuss law and order situation in Punjab, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi. This comes in the wake of the storming of Ajnala Police Station by Khalistani sympathizers.

Amritpal Singh And 'Waris Punjab De': AAP Government's Incompetence Makes It Centre's Fight

1 March: Speaking to the media, Mann finally elaborated on the prevailing security threat in Punjab. About the violence in Ajnala, Mann said that there were elements who wanted to disturb the peace and harmony in the state using the SGGS as a shield, and many of them were funded by Pakistan with support through the border.

Mann has been under heavy political fire for focussing on Delhi instead of taking stock of the situation in Punjab.

23 February: Khalistani separatist Amritpal Singh Sandhu's supporters first blocked the Jalandhar-Amritsar National Highway. Later, Ajnala police station in Amritsar was witness to mayhem when Sandhu's supporters broke through police barricades outside the station, all the while brandishing guns and swords.

They were protesting the arrest of one of Sandhu's aides in a kidnapping case.

A wave of unrest is sweeping through the state of Punjab as the Bhagwant Mann government appears to be yielding to Khalistani separatists. 

It won’t come as a surprise if both Kejriwal and Mann evade responsibility in the future and leave the problem for the centre to deal with, right before the elections of 2024. 

Therefore, it is imperative that the BJP avoids the mistakes they made during the farmer protests.

Why the rise of Sandhu to a position of power and influence is ringing alarm bells.

AAP versus Centre on the rebranding of Ayushman Bharat Clinics. The AAP government in Punjab has converted health wellness centres funded by NHM into their own 'Aam Aadmi Clinics', violating guidelines.

The NHM has already released Rs 438 crore for these centres, but the AAP's actions could put the next installment of Rs 546 crore at risk. Union government officials have sent a warning letter. Meanwhile, AAP denies these allegations.

Rearview: Punjab

In 2022, when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was sweeping one state after the other, only losing Himachal Pradesh to the Congress and Bihar to a fallout with Nitish Kumar, there was another party making headlines.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was expected to win Punjab, and that victory was on the cards since 2014, when they first won four of the thirteen Lok Sabha seats in the state.

However, courtesy of their own political misadventures and mistakes, it took them eight years to register a mammoth victory in the state assembly elections.

To evaluate the AAP government and the political future of the state, six events must be factored in.

One, the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, where AAP won four seats, and the BJP merely managed two.

Two, the state assembly elections of 2017, where AAP emerged as the main opposition party and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP coalition was decimated after ten years of misrule.

Three, the elections of 2019, where AAP was reduced to a single seat, BJP managed two, and the SAD leaders had to fight hard to retain their home turf.

Four, the farmer protests, and how that eliminated the trust between New Delhi and Chandigarh, and eventually resulted in a complete reshuffle of the political equations in the state.

Five, the assembly elections of 2022 where more than AAP winning big, it was all about the big names losing their seats.

And six, the AAP losing their only Lok Sabha constituency to an MP who openly professes his love for the separate state of Khalistan.

Longview Punjab:

Law And Order

Punjab's law and order problems have only increased since the arrival of the AAP.

It started with the Sangrur bypoll, murder of famous singer Sidhu Moose Wala, clashes in Patiala, and the emergence of Amritpal Singh Sandhu, self-proclaimed leader of the social group Waris Punjab De.

Protests have become a common sight in the state, with AAP playing a mute spectator, as elaborated here, here, here, and even before the elections, as explained here.

Broke But Proud

It takes a special masterstroke for a state to puncture its economic prospects, but that is what the farmers of the state went for in 2020. Punjab's agriculture, fueled by the endless MSPs, is hurtling towards an ecological crisis.

There's more bad news, however, and that has to do with the debt the previous governments have piled up in the last two decades.

While AAP, with its mandate, was expected to take some tough calls, they are only worsening the situation, resulting in some economists to suggest crowdfunding money to curb state's debt!

BJP Needs To Get Back Into The Game

While the protests at Singhu and the unforgivable rioting on the eve of Republic Day has furthered the electorate in Punjab from the BJP, there are many who would want economic and political stability to return to the state, and this is where the opportunity for the BJP lies.

It won't be an easy sailing given the equation with the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), new players on the ground, and the fading popularity of many prominent leaders, from Badals to the Captain, but the BJP must be focussed on the long game, and make the best use of the next twelve months.

Tushar is a senior-sub-editor at Swarajya. He tweets at @Tushar15_
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