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Will Soon Appear Before World, Says Amritpal Singh In New Video

Pro-Khalistan preacher Amritpal Singh, who has been on the run from the Punjab police, surfaced in a new video on Thursday, stating that he was not a fugitive and would soon appear before the world. Security in and around Amritsar and Bathinda has been increased amid reports that Singh may surrender after entering any of the two Sikh shrines - Golden Temple in Amritsar and Takht Sri Damdama Sahib in Bathinda.

Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal Singh
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A day after daring the Punjab police to arrest him, radical preacher Amritpal Singh surfaced in a fresh video on Thursday, asserting he was not a fugitive and would soon appear before the world. A day earlier, a video had appeared on social media with the pro-Khalistan preacher asking the jathedar (or chief) of the highest temporal body of Sikhs to summon a congregation of the faithful to discuss issues concerning the community. The purported video surfaced hours after his audio clip came out on social media in which he debunked speculation he was negotiating his surrender. "Those who feel that I have turned fugitive and I have left my associates, they should not keep this illusion in their mind. I do not fear death," he said in the video in Punjabi.

"And soon will appear before the world and will also be amongst the 'Sangat'," Amritpal Singh said. Police have stepped up security in and around Amritsar and Bathinda amid reports that Amritpal Singh may surrender after entering any of the two Sikh shrines - Golden Temple in Amritsar and Takht Sri Damdama Sahib in Bathinda. The pro-Khalistan preacher said he was not like those who would flee the country. "One has to face a lot during the days of rebellion. These days of rebellion are difficult to pass," he said. "I want to tell the government that I did not fear them before and I don't fear them now. Whatever they have to do they may do. I cannot even think of becoming a fugitive," Amritpal Singh said, adding that he was not afraid of getting arrested.  He appealed to the people not to get swayed by propaganda.

It was his second video since being on the run amid a police crackdown on his outfit 'Waris Punjab De'. Amritpal Singh, in the clip, again asked the jathedar of the Akal Takht to summon a congregation. Take out a 'Khalsa Vaheer' (religious procession) from the Akal Takht in Amritsar to Damdama Sahib in Bathinda and hold a 'Sarbat Khalsa' there on  Baisakhi, he said. It is time for the jathedar to prove allegations of his affiliation to a particular family wrong and he must stand up for the community, he added. In the audio clip, Amritpal Singh piled pressure on the Sikh body, saying, "If we are going to play politics even today, doing the same things we used to do earlier, then what's the point of being a jathedar in the future."

"We should understand that today is the time for the entire community to come together," he said in Punjabi, calling for "unity" among Sikh bodies. In the first video clip too, Amritpal Singh had tried to argue that the issue was not just his arrest, but about larger concerns of the Sikh community. Meanwhile, the Punjab government has informed the Akal Takht that almost all the people taken into preventive custody - 348 out of 360 - during the crackdown against Amritpal Singh and his ‘Waris Punjab De’ outfit have now been released. Jathedar Harpreet Singh had earlier issued an “ultimatum” to the state government to release the Sikh youths picked up during the crackdown that began on March 18. There was no immediate comment by police on the authenticity of the nearly two-minute audio clip and about six-minute video.

On Thursday, a drone was deployed over the village in Hoshiarpur where some suspects abandoned their car two days back after a police chase. There was speculation that Amritpal Singh could have been in that vehicle. Security also remained stepped up around Amritsar's Golden Temple, but officials claimed this was not linked to the hunt for Amritpal Singh. They took out another flag march in the area. The preacher remains untraceable since March 18, when he gave the slip to a police dragnet in Jalandhar, switching cars and changing appearances. The trigger for the crackdown was the storming of the Ajnala police station last month by him and his supporters, some of them brandishing firearms to secure the release of an arrested man. Six police personnel were injured.

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