Khalistan supporter Amritpal Singh, the focus of a massive manhunt in Punjab since Saturday, stashed a large number weapons, ran deaddiction centres to indoctrinate young Sikh men and used a Mercedes SUV gifted by a drug boss, according to top government sources.
Hundreds of paramilitary personnel have spread out in Punjab and internet has been banned in the search for Amritpal Singh, who was seen speeding away in the Mercedes SUV on Saturday when the police were hot on his trail. He later ditched the car and rode a bike to throw off the police.
The Mercedes was allegedly gifted by Ravel Singh, a drug dealer. Amritpal Singh often drove around the city in the SUV and waved to people from its sunroof.
The Centre is prepping charges under the National Security Act (NSA) against Amritpal Singh and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) may step in soon.
Investigations so far have revealed disturbing facts about the man known by many as "Bhindranwale 2.0" after Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was killed during Operation Blue Star in 1984.
Amritpal Singh, a radical preacher, was allegedly building a "private militia" of youth from drug deaddiction centres, to be used for creating law and order problems or organizing violent protests.
The deaddiction centres were allegedly also used to stockpile illegally-sourced weapons from Pakistan.
Amritpal Singh has known links with Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), which helped him run the drugs business, investigations so far show.
Amritpal Singh's Waris Punjab De (WPD) outfit tried to inculcate a radical, violent way of thinking among those at the drug deaddiction centres, sources said. There were no doctors at the Centre. If the inmates do not agree to do his bidding, they were beaten into submission, they added.
Sources also said Amritpal Singh procured low quality, cheaper antidotes of drugs, prolonging a person's dependence on drugs and making them more pliant.
Amritpal Singh allegedly came in contract with the ISI when he worked as a truck driver in Dubai. The ISI told him to go to Punjab and incite young people in the name of religion, sources say.
Since Amritpal Singh landed in Punjab, there has been a spike in the number of drones carrying drugs from across the border, say police sources, adding that they are investigating whether he has a role in bringing drugs from Pakistan to India.
Amritpal Singh also had links in Dubai with Jaswant Singh Rode, whose brother Lakhbir Singh Rode was allegedly involved in bringing drugs from Pakistan to India. His London-based associate Avtar Singh Khanda allegedly knew a dealer, Paramjeet Singh Pamma, who sent drugs to India, sources said.
Police sources say they are also gathering evidence of Amritpal Singh's links with cross-border drug dealers based in Pakistan.
The crackdown comes a month after Amritpal Singh and his supporters broke into a police station with swords and guns in a dramatic standoff, forcing the release of one of his aides.