The Shiromani Akali Dal on Monday, day three of the hunt for Khalistani leader Amritpal Singh, broke its silence on the massive operation to arrest the radical leader and his associates. Sukhbir Singh Badal, president of the party, strongly criticised the Aam Aadmi Party government in the state for the "undeclared emergency and reign of repression and terror". He accused the AAP of spreading 'conspiracy theories' to defame the Sikh community, and condemned the arrest of "innocent Sikh youth".
SAD strongly comdemns the puppet AAP regime in Punjab for the undeclared emergency and reign of repression & terror let loose in the state. We warn the govt against dangerous conspiracies to defame the most patriotic Sikh community for communal polarization & electoral gains. 1/5— Sukhbir Singh Badal (@officeofssbadal) March 20, 2023
In a series of tweets on Monday evening, Mr Badal also said that five times Chief Minister and Akali Dal patriarch Parkash Singh Badal had pulled the state out of "bloody cycle of terror and repression" and started an era of peace and progress. Pointing to the Emergency and a violent separatist movement for Khalistan in the 1980s and early 1990s in which thousands of people died, he said successive governments since have "pushed Punjab back into the jaws of insecurity and repression", he said.
"Govt led by S Parkash Singh Badal had pulled the state out of the bloody cycle of terror & repression and started an era of peace & progress. But the govts that followed have pushed Punjab back into the jaws of insecurity and repression reminiscent of the dark and tragic era," he tweeted.
Calling Sikhs the "most patriotic community" who "made the greatest sacrifices for securing and safeguarding Independence", Mr Badal accused the AAP government of communal polarisation for electoral gains.
"Sikhs are the most patriotic people and have made the greatest sacrifices for securing & safeguarding independence, unity & integrity of India and we'll do so again whenever the country needs it. This is our country & Sikhs need no certificate from anyone on their patriotism," he said.
He condemned the 'indiscriminate arrests' of Sikh youth, especially Amritdhari youth (baptised Sikh youth), who he said are innocent.
"Shiromani Akali Dal strongly condemns the indiscriminate arrests of innocent Sikh youth, especially the Amritdhari youth on mere suspicion through resort to extra-constitutional methods. We demand the immediate release of all innocents arrested in the ongoing crackdown," he said.
Meanwhile, the AAP government has said that lawlessness will not be allowed, and strict action will be taken against anyone trying to disturb peace.
"The people of Punjab are very happy about this action against anti-social elements. He said that the Mann government will not allow any kind of lawlessness," Punjab minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal said at a press conference, adding that the youth of Punjab do not need bullets and guns.
So far, the police have arrested 114 associates of Amritpal Singh. Several members of his outfit have also been detained for questioning.