The Jathedar of Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikhs, Giani Harpeet Singh on Monday gave a 24-hour ultimatum to the state government to release all Sikh youths who were held during the police crackdown against radical preacher Amritpal Singh and his aides.
Following a police crackdown against Amritpal and his associates, Punjab Police Sunday said it has released 197 persons out of total 353 taken into preventive custody on apprehension of breach of peace and disturbance of law and order.
The Jathedar also condemned the state government for invoking the National Security Act against a few persons during the police crackdown.
The Jathedar had convened a special gathering of Sikh organizations, including intellectuals, Sikh lawyers, journalists, religious and social leaders here to discuss the current situation in Punjab following the March 18 action against elements of 'Waris Punjab De' headed by Amritpal Singh.
CM Mann asked police to release arrested Sikh youths
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said he has asked the director general of police to release those who were taken into preventive custody and their involvement to any anti-national activity was not found.
On the sidelines of an event in Jalandhar, Mann, however, said strict action will be taken against whosoever tries to disturb peace in the state.
What did the Akal Takht Jathedar say?
Addressing the gathering, the Jathedar gave a 24-hour ultimatum to the Punjab government for releasing all Sikh youths in Punjab, saying otherwise the anger of Sikh community would remain simmering.
He also attacked certain TV channels, accusing them of promoting hate propaganda against Sikhs by describing the youths who have been held as separatists. The Jathedar asked the state government to revoke the detention of some persons under the NSA and demanded that those who have been sent to Dibrugarh jail in Assam should be brought back to Punjab so that law can take its own course.
He said it would be wrong to say that there was a threat to national security due to the Sikhs who have been detained. Without naming anyone, Singh said the NSA should also then be invoked against those who speak about 'Hindu Rashtra.'
The Jathedar said it would extend all help to the "innocent Sikhs" who have been held in this matter. The Jatehdar claimed that around 400 Sikh youths had been "arrested" and 198 had been released.
But the Sikh community wanted release of all arrested Sikhs, he said. He also asked the police to release the impounded vehicles of the Sikhs. The Punjab Police had last week launched a crackdown against elements of 'Waris Punjab De,' headed by Amritpal.
The elusive preacher himself, however, gave the police a slip and escaped their dragnet when his cavalcade was intercepted in Jalandhar district.
(With PTI Inputs)