edited by: Oindrila Mukherjee
Last Update: March 18, 2023, 21:25 IST
Some families from other districts of Punjab had come to Jallupur Kheda for ‘darshan’ of ‘Babaji’ Amritpal Singh. (Image: News18)
Before absconding, Khalistani leader Amritpal Singh roamed Jallupur Kheda village in a battery of SUVs while his aides roamed the streets carrying weapons, largely ignored by police
When a man bent down to touch the feet, Khalistani leader Amritpal Singh scolded him saying, ‘Why did you touch my feet? Is there a picture? Delete that picture…”
This was the last Monday (March 13), five days before that on Saturday, the Punjab Police was uprooted. he specifically instructed News18 The team is present at his home for an interview, not to shoot video or take pictures of his armed guards.
While the police were chasing Amritpal near Jalandhar, a heavy contingent of Rapid Action Force, paramilitary forces and Punjab Police descended on the village. Not a single policeman was seen on Monday in Jallupur Kheda, from where the hardline leader runs his private fiefdom. Used to run
Raiya police station is located near this village, 40 km from Amritsar, but when asked how Amritpal and his guards were roaming around with weapons, the policemen there had no answer.
The narrow lane to his house was littered with CCTV cameras covering his house from all sides and his associates monitoring the footage from inside. An armed man let us inside the iron door of the house, checking that we had asked for time with the leader.
A few families were present inside – women and children, who had come from other districts to have darshan of ‘Babaji’ Amritpal Singh. He emerged shortly afterwards to pose for photographs with the visitors but specified that no video be made.
After the 15-minute interview, Amritpal left in a convoy of SUVs for the village gurudwara, only 200 meters from his residence. He spent a few hours there giving sermons and visiting a de-addiction center inside the Gurdwara premises. After he left, we spoke to the Sikh man at the de-addiction center who had come from Australia and spoke fluent English, and said he had considered Amritpal’s demand for Khalistan. But soon Amritpal’s supporters came out and demanded that the video should be removed as it needed their leader’s permission.
News18 found that people in nearby villages like Nijjar and Rayya were mostly wary of Amritpal and his ways. A group of youths near Nijjar actually mis-directed the team to Jallupur Kheda. He was coming out of a village meeting by a Christian preacher. An elder said that Amritpal leveled allegations of conversion against Christian preachers and hence there was tension in the area.
Although the people of Jallupur Kheda village did not want to talk about Amritpal, one or two farmers working in the fields said in a low voice that the open display of weapons by the leader’s men had created an atmosphere of fear in the village .
Amritpal had returned to the village from Dubai six months ago but the police had not taken any action against him till Saturday. Now, with the police closing in on him, if he is arrested he is likely to be in jail for a long time and this interview to News18 could be his last.
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