Punjab reinvokes NSA against Amritpal, 9 aides - Hindustan Times
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Punjab reinvokes NSA against Amritpal, 9 aides

Mar 20, 2024 07:52 AM IST

According to a senior government functionary, Punjab Police kept fresh grounds of keeping Amritpal and his aides in detention before the board that looks after cases of NSA. The board, presided over by a retired high court judge, gave a go-ahead to the request, the functionary said, on anonymity.

The Punjab government has re-invoked National Security Act-1980 against radical Sikh leader and Waris Punjab De chief, Amritpal Singh and his nine associates, officials said.

Radical preacher Amritpal Singh (PTI)
Radical preacher Amritpal Singh (PTI)

According to a senior government functionary, Punjab Police kept fresh grounds of keeping Amritpal and his aides in detention before the board that looks after cases of NSA. The board, presided over by a retired high court judge, gave a go-ahead to the request, the functionary said, on anonymity.

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Separately, the state government also informed Punjab and Haryana high court about the development during proceedings in a case wherein these detainees have challenged imposition of NSA against them last year. State’s advocate general Gurminder Singh confirmed the development but refused to divulge details.

The NSA allows the government to detain people for up to 12 months without charging them.

Detained in March-April last year, Amritpal and his associates are lodged in Dibrugarh jail in Assam. The detention came following the operation undertaken by the Centre and Punjab in the crackdown launched on March 18, 2023, against the Waris Punjab De chief. The NSA was slapped on the accused and they were arrested. Amritpal was arrested after a month-long chase on April 23, 2023, from village in Moga.

“The fresh grounds (to impose NSA) include threat to national security because of continuous activism related to release of the prisoners that may disturb the peace of Punjab and the fresh intelligence inputs about activities of these detainees,” the Punjab government official said. All of them have either completed one year or are about to complete the maximum period for which detention is allowed.

Amritpal (31), who is a follower of slain militant preacher Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, had made controversial statements prior to March 18 crackdown and was seen openly roaming around with armed guards across Punjab. The tipping point came following a mob, being lead by Amritpal, stormed Ajnala police station to secure a release of his associate. The mob inflicted injuries upon senior police officials with sharp-edged weapons, and also vandalised government property. Amritpal has multiple FIRs against him for hurting religious sentiments, assault, criminal conspiracy, among others, including one registered by Ajnala police in Amritsar.

On February 17, the Assam police had made recovery of a spy camera, a smartphone, a keypad phone, pen drives, bluetooth headphones and speakers, a smartwatch, and several other gadgets from the NSA cell, where the detainees are lodged. On March 7, the police had said that a superintendent of Dibrugarh Central Jail had been arrested in this connection.

Amritpal and his associates had begun a hunger strike on February 16 demanding their transfer to their home state, Punjab. According to Assam police, a team of doctors was examining the health of all the 10 inmates.

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