The Assam Police have deployed specialised counter-insurgent Black Panther commandos at the Dibrugarh jail, where seven members of absconding pro-Khalistan separatist preacher Amritpal Singh’s Waris Punjab De have been lodged amid a crackdown on it.
Police superintendent Shwetank Mishra said additional security arrangements have been made for strict vigil both inside and outside the jail.
The Assam Police, Central Reserve Police Force, and specially trained jail guards have been involved in the security arrangements. Additional CCTV cameras have also been installed in and around the prison.
Harjit Singh, Amritpal Singh’s uncle, was among three Waris Punjab De members flown to Assam on Monday. He surrendered as authorities continued a manhunt across Punjab to nab Amritpal Singh, 30.
Harjit Singh is considered the brains behind Amritpal Singh’s meteoric rise over the past year after his return from West Asia.
Amritpal Singh’s four other alleged aides Daljit Singh Kalsi, Bhagwant Singh, Gurmeet Singh, and Pardhanmantri Bajeke, who were arrested on Saturday last, were earlier shifted to the Dibrugarh prison in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Assam.
Kalsi is accused of managing the funds for Waris Punjab De. Bajeke looked after the social media of the organisation.
Assam’s inspector general of (law and order) Prasanta Kumar Bhuyan on Sunday visited the Dibrugarh jail to review the security arrangements.
Deputy police commissioner Biswajit Pegu said multiple layers of security, especially in the area where the seven have been lodged, have been made. “This has been done in collaboration with the Centre…”
The seven have been booked under the stringent National Security Act (NSA). According to NSA’s Section 5, anybody can be transferred to another state to maintain peace and public harmony.
Under NSA, a person can be kept in detention for one year without being produced in court.
The operation against Amritpal Singh began on Saturday last. Amritpal Singh and his followers have been accused of spreading communal disharmony, attempting to murder, and attacking policemen.
On February 23, thousands of his supporters besieged a police station and forced the state government to free Amritpal Singh’s key aide, Lovepreet Singh Toofan, who was accused of abduction.
Toofan’s release and the siege drew parallels to the 1980s when Punjab battled separatism.
Singh fashions himself after 1980s separatist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and has been linked to a larger conspiracy involving the Khalistani secessionist movement. Intelligence agencies say he was radicalising young men in Punjab.
The Union home ministry on Monday asked the border guarding forces to be on the lookout and foil Amritpal Singh’s attempts to leave the country.
On Thursday, Punjab Police said Amritpal Singh set up a temporary shooting range in his village in Amritsar district where he was training his aides on the use of firearms to recruit them in a force he was building and termed it Anandpur Khalsa Fauj.
Police said they learnt about his “anti-national” activities after they came across photos and videos on the cellphone of one of his aides, Tejinder Singh Gill aka Gorkha Baba, who was arrested on Thursday.
The Haryana Police on Thursday arrested a woman for allegedly harbouring Amritpal Singh and his associate Papalpreet Singh at her home in Kurukshetra.