Not really. Rather a deliberate act by the police, in order to get hold of Amritpal Singh Sandhu, the Robin Hood of Punjab. If we understood correctly, the idea was to avoid the spread of “fake news”. But the decision had the effect of paralyzing virtually the entire state!
No, he’s still running. But a hundred of his supporters were imprisoned. According to the BBC, thousands of police are on his trail.
Amritpal Singh Sandhu, 30, is considered a “threat to national security”. Since returning to India a year ago, this charismatic preacher seems intent on reviving the Sikh independence movement, which had been more or less dormant since the 1990s. On February 23, Amritpal and his men attacked a police station, with sabers and guns, to free one of their colleagues. The police say they were unable to arrest him because he was protecting himself with the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhism. This event convinced the authorities that it had to be put out of harm’s way, for fear of a separatist flashback in this state of 31 million inhabitants.
It’s not from yesterday. Sikhs make up 2% of India’s population, or about 20 million people, mostly located in Indian Punjab, but also Pakistani. Since the partition of India in 1947, the Sikhs have claimed their own state, Khalistan, a reunited Punjab. This independence movement was particularly active in the 1970s and 1980s, which led to bloody crackdowns by Delhi, and equally terrible acts of revenge by the independence movement. Remember the assassination of Indira Gandhi and the Air India bombing, perpetrated from Canada… It is estimated that these disturbances claimed 20,000 victims.
Punjab has been at peace since 1993. But the separatist movement has never completely died out. Fears of a new insurrection are still there, hence the panic of the Indian government at the appearance of this Amritpal Singh Sandhu who has the crowds running.
Almost nowhere. Punjabi by birth, he had worked for many years for the family business in Dubai. Returning to India recently, he has just taken the head of the organization Waris Punjab De (Heirs of Punjab), an orphan since the disappearance of its leader, who died in a mysterious road accident. A radical activist, he took advantage of his influence over the Sikh youth to mobilize the troops. For him, independence is the only “permanent solution” to Punjab’s problems. “What is scary is that he is using Sikhism to seek followers. He does not appeal to reason, but to feeling. It’s a different nationalism because it appeals to faith, “says Serge Granger, professor and specialist in India at the University of Sherbrooke.
Possible. But beware of protests. The Indian government does not have a reputation for being very soft on the Khalistan separatists. This week, Amnesty India even expressed its concerns at the start of repression in Punjab (censorship, internet shutdown), concerns relayed in Canada by Jagmeet Singh and Tim Uppal, two federal politicians of the Sikh faith. “Historically, India has used the stick more than the carrot against the separatist movement,” adds Serge Granger. I assume they want to put him in jail to set an example. The idea is to prevent the germ from developing. »
Not sure. According to India Today, Amritpal Singh Sandhu has already managed to leave the country, a spectacular escape with disguises and multiple changes of vehicle. Rumors even send him to Canada, where there is a large pro-Khalistan diaspora. He reportedly applied for a visa and flew from Nepal. Punjabi police said the scenario was “under investigation”…