The Punjab government has decided to shift pro-Khalistan propagator Amritpal Singh to jail in Assam, more than 2,600 km away from Punjab, on the directions of the Centre, a senior government official said on April 23.
The decision was taken to avoid any kind of jailbreak or protests if Singh was lodged in any prison in Punjab or Haryana.
Singh, the chief of Waris Punjab De (heirs of Punjab), who has been detained under the National Security Act (NSA), will be kept in solitary confinement in the Dibrugarh Central Prison in Assam. Nine other aides of Singh, who were arrested over the past 35 days, are also lodged in Dibrugarh jail and are being held in separate cells, the official said.
Also Read | Those who try to disturb peace, harmony will face action: Punjab CM Mann on Amritpal’s arrest
The 1980 Act enables the administration to detain Singh for a year through executive orders, which could be extended also. Singh, who is wanted in at least six other criminal cases was detained under the NSA as the Act has the provision to move the detainee from “one place of detention to another place of detention, within the same State or in another State, by order of the appropriate government.” An official said that arresting him under any other criminal case would have required court’s permission.
“The possibility of a law and order situation in Punjab had Singh been kept in a jail in the State could not be ruled out. They could have incited other prisoners and could have planned a jailbreak,” said the official.
The probability of Singh and his aides radicalising other prisoners in jail and associating them to a militant group, Anandpur Khalsa Fauj (AKF), raised by him, was also factored in while moving them out of the State.
“There are groups in Punjab funded by international separatist organisations who could have organised protests in his support outside the jail premises,” said the official.
Hiding in Punjab
Another official said Singh, who was on the run since March 18, had been hiding in Punjab and nearby areas.
Though Singh was under the radar of agencies since last year, on February 23, a violent mob, led by the self-styled Sikh preacher, stormed a police station in Punjab’s Ajnala demanding one of their own to be released from police custody. The protesters carried a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs, as a shield, forcing the police to not open force.
Six policemen were injured in the incident.
On March 2, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi and additional Central forces were sent to Punjab. On March 18, when the police initiated the crackdown, Singh managed to give them a slip and was arrested on April 23.