India arrests over 100 in manhunt for Sikh separatist


A manhunt for a radical Sikh preacher in India entered its second day on Sunday, after authorities arrested 112 of his supporters and shut mobile internet across the Punjab state.

Amritpal Singh rose to prominence in recent months demanding the creation of Khalistan, a separate Sikh homeland, and with his inter­pretation of Sik­hism at rallies in rural pockets of the northern state of some 30 million people.

Last month Singh, 30, and his supporters allegedly armed with swords, knives and guns raided a police station after one of his aides was arrested for a suspected assault and attempted kidnapping.

After the operation began on Saturday, Pun­jab police tweeted late in the day that 112 had been arrested in the “mega crackdown”.

But Singh himself was not thought to be among them.

On Sunday, there was a major police presence across Punjab, especially around Singh’s village of Jallupur Khera, local media reported.

The police said its “manhunt” was ongoing and the overall “situation is under control, citizens (are) requested to not believe in rumours”.

Local media reports said the Punjab government ordered the mobile internet shutdown to be in place until Monday noon.

Authorities frequently shut down mobile internet services, particularly in India-held Kashmir.The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Sunday put the State of Punjab and its functionaries on notice on a habeas corpus petition seeking issuance of directions to the Jalandhar commissioner of police and other officials to produce alleged detainee Amritpal Singh “in the interest of justice”Amritpal Singh's four aides flown to Assam's Dibrugarh by special aircraft

Justice N.S. Shekhawat of the high court also fixed the case for further hearing on Tuesday.

Among other things, petitioner Imaan Singh Khara alleged that ‘Waris Punjab De’ chief Amritpal Singh had been illegally and forcibly detained by the commissioner and other official respondents without any authority of law.

Directions were also sought for the appointment of a warrant officer to visit the “spot”.

“If the detainee is found in illegal custody of the respondents, he be set at liberty forthwith,” the petitioner added.

The Bench was also told by the petitioner that he was the legal adviser of organisation ‘Waris Punjab De’ and alleged detainee Amritpal Singh.

The petitioner through counsel Judgepreet Singh Warring added the officials, along with the Central Para Military Forces, detained Amritpal Singh from Shahkot area of Jalandhar district illegally and forcibly without disclosing any reason on March 18.

“Even as per the mandate of law, the respondents are required to disclose the reasons to the detainee prior to illegal arrest/taking over illegal custody. Moreover, the respondents are intentionally not disclosing anything to the family of the detainee, despite the fact that more than 24 hours have lapsed since then. So, in these circumstances there is strong enough apprehension danger to the life of the Amritpal Singh,” he added.

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