'Waris Punjab De' chief Amritpal Singh (center) pays his respect at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on March 3, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
NEW DELHI – Indian police have arrested Sikh separatist Amritpal Singh after searching for him for more than a month, a state police official said on Sunday, a move against the revival of an independent homeland in the state of Punjab bordering Pakistan.
The rise of Singh, a preacher in the northwestern state of Punjab where Sikhs are in the majority, has revived talk of an independent Sikh homeland and stoked fears of a return to violence that killed tens of thousands of people in the 1980s and early 1990s during a Sikh insurgency.
The arrest of Amritpal Singh, 30, comes after the self-styled preacher and hundreds of his supporters stormed a police station with swords and firearms, demanding the release of one of his aides
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"Amritpal Singh has been arrested from the Rode village in Moga district, Punjab on the basis of specific intelligence," Sukhchain Singh Gill, a top official of the Punjab police told reporters.
The arrest of Amritpal Singh, 30 — who leads a group called Waris Punjab De (the heirs of Punjab)– comes after the self-styled preacher and hundreds of his supporters stormed a police station with swords and firearms, demanding the release of one of his aides.
Police have accused Singh and his supporters of attempted murder, obstruction of law enforcement, and creating disharmony, and said he had been on the run since mid-March.
He was arrested in the village gurudwara, a Sikh temple, under the National Security Act, which allows for those deemed a threat to national security to be detained without charge for up to a year, the police official said.
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Gill said he would be moved to Dibrugarh, in the state of Assam, where some of his associates are already in jail.