In one of the most widespread blackouts in recent years, Indian authorities have cut down internet connectivity to approximately 27 million people in the state of Punjab for a third straight day as they look for a fugitive Sikh separatist named Amrit Pal.
A Sikh separatist is someone who advocates for the creation of an independent Sikh state, separate from India. The demand for an independent Sikh state, also known as Khalistan, emerged in the 1970s and 1980s due to perceived discrimination and suppression of Sikh identity and culture by the Indian government.
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An operation to apprehend Amritpal Singh, a well-known figure within the separatist Khalistan movement that aspires to create a sovereign state for Sikhs, led police to originally proclaim a 24-hour internet restriction on Saturday. The ban was maintained until March 21, 2022 at 12 IST (2:30 am ET).
Who is Amritpal Singh?
Amritpal Singh was born in 1988 in Jallupur Khera in Punjab’s Amritsar district in India.
According to reports, his family owns a transport company in Dubai, where Singh has resided since 2012. Singh travelled to India and participated in the agitation against the now-repealed farm regulations during the farmers’ year-long protest.
Singh was born nine years after the death of Sikh militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in the Army operation at the Golden Temple, the most revered Sikh shrine.
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The Army Operation in the Golden Temple, also known as Operation Blue Star, was a military operation conducted by the Indian army in June 1984 to remove Sikh militants who had taken refuge in the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar, Punjab. The militants, who were seeking an independent Sikh state called Khalistan, had fortified the temple complex and were using it as a base to carry out terrorist activities.
Singh presents himself like Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale adherent from style to mannerisms as per NDTV.
He too carries an arrow and travels with armed guards, just like the cult leader.
Bhindranwale was a Sikh militant and preacher who gained prominence in the 1980s.
Bhindranwale became the leader of the Damdami Taksal, a Sikh religious school, in the early 1980s. He was a strong advocate for the establishment of a separate Sikh state, Khalistan, in Punjab. He also spoke out against what he saw as the increasing influence of Hindu culture and values in Punjab.
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Yet there are a lot of variations. Bhindrawale was a blatantly religious figure. Singh was not raised in an orthodox religious tradition before taking on the identity of Waris de Punjab ( A group founded by former Indian actor turned activist Deep Sindhu for the “rights of Punjab)
Post Sindhu’s death in 2022, Singh is the leader of Waris de Punjab.