Nepal on Monday put out a high alert on the possibility of wanted pro-Khalistani group chief Amritpal Singh entering the country over the land border, in response to a special request from India.
In its letter, the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu “informed” the Nepal Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Amritpal Singh, the leader of the separatist group Waaris Punjab De, is on a “Look Out Circular” in India, and is at present believed to be hiding in Nepal and could use his own Indian passport or that of another country to escape through Nepal.
The letter, a copy of which was seen by The Hindu, has reportedly been circulated to all concerned government departments as well as hotels, airlines and airport authorities.
Describing Amritpal Singh’s physical features and enclosing recent photographs, the Embassy asked Nepali authorities not to permit him to travel through the country, and to inform immigration officials if they apprehend him.
Teams dispatched to border
Nepali newspapers quoted senior officials as saying that a team from Nepali police’s Special Bureau and Intelligence Bureau have been dispatched to the border crossing areas between the two countries.
“We have received a written note along with a copy of his passport from the [Indian] embassy suspecting that Amritpal Singh might have entered Nepal,” said Kamal Prasad Pandey, the Nepali Immigration Department’s Information Officer.
The MEA did not confirm sending the letter and declined to comment on the request to Nepal for action against Amritpal Singh in case he is apprehended there.
Since March 18, police and security forces have undertaken a crackdown on the Waaris Punjab De group in Punjab, arresting more than 350 people, and charging many under the National Security Act, and other criminal charges. However, the group’s most visible face Amritpal Singh has been absconding for nearly 10 days, and reportedly gave police the slip in Jalandhar, when his car and convoy were intercepted.
The crackdown in Punjab has sparked protests by pro-Khalistani groups in many countries, and caused diplomatic friction with India after the groups targeted Indian missions or diplomats in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, and suspected activists vandalised temples and Indian community centres in each of those countries as well.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi had himself raised the issue publicly with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese this month, the MEA also summoned the envoys of the U.K., the U.S. and Canada to protest the lack of security to Indian missions.
Security barricades outside the British High Commission and High commissioner’s residence were also removed last week in what was seen as a “tit for tat” action after protesters outside the Indian High Commission in London were able to pull down the tricolour and attempted to raise a “Khalistan” flag instead. In addition, on March 5, India summoned the Swiss Ambassador to protest the appearance of posters and anti-India graffiti in a public area in down-town Geneva.
(With inputs from PTI/Kathmandu)