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Pro-Khalistan preacher’s aide released from jail, a day after his supporters clashed with police 

‘Waris Punjab De’ founder Amritpal Singh‘s associate Lovepreet Toofan raises slogans along with supporters after his release from the Amritsar Central Jail, in Amritsar, Friday, Feb. 24, 2023.
| Photo Credit: PTI

Accused in a kidnapping and assault case, Lovepreet Singh alias Toofan Singh — a close aide of self-styled Sikh preacher and Khalistani sympathiser Amritpal Singh — was released from jail in Punjab’s Ajnala on Friday.

A local court issued the release order after the police presented an application for Mr. Lovepreet Singh’s discharge. On Thursday, armed with swords, guns and sharp weapons, scores of supporters of Mr. Amritpal Singh, who heads the radical Waris Punjab De outfit, scuffled with police personnel, injuring a few. They barged into Ajnala police station, demanding the cancellation of the FIR and release of Lovepreet.

The Senior Superintendent of Police for Amritsar rural, Satinder Singh, told reporters that Mr. Lovepreet Singh’s supporters had provided evidence that he was not present at the spot where the alleged kidnapping and assault occurred, and hence the police had submitted the same evidence before the court, for his discharge.

Punjab Director General of Police Gaurav Yadav said that, in an act of “cowardice”, the protesters had used a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib as a shield cover when they attacked police personnel. The police had worked with utmost restraint to maintain the holy Guru Granth Sahib’s dignity, he added. “Six police personnel were injured in the incident. After analysing the video footage, action will be taken against those who attacked police,” he told journalists.

‘Law and order collapse’

Opposition parties hit out at the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), accusing it of failing to maintain law and order in the State. “If a group of people armed with all sorts of weapons, including guns and swords, lay siege to a police station that resulted in bloody clashes, leaving many of them injured, it must be termed as a collapse of law and order machinery in Punjab,” Congress MLA Partap Singh Bajwa, leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, said.

Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Sikh Badal said that a conspiracy seemed to be at work to render the peaceful democratic voice of Punjabis irrelevant by actively sponsoring and promoting disruptive and lawless elements. “Otherwise, how do you explain yesterday’s complete administrative paralysis and why there was no attempt by the government to ensure that its writ runs in the State? We have no government worth the name in Punjab,” he said.

‘Political motive’

Earlier, Mr. Amritpal Singh alleged that the FIR was only registered with a political motive, claiming that his supporters had gathered to show their strength in support of their demands. He went on to warn the local administration, saying that “…if the demands were not met, then the administration would be responsible for whatever happens.”

Mr. Amritpal Singh was among several people who were recently booked by the Punjab police on allegations of kidnapping, theft and voluntarily causing hurt to a resident of Chamkaur Sahib in Rupnagar district. In this connection, the police had arrested Lovepreet Singh alias Toofan Singh last week. His family members accused the police of falsely implicating him in the case.

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