Khalistani leader Amritpal Singh, who is on the run from the police, allegedly planned to take over the top Sikh body SGPC by creating his own vote bank. He aimed at giving credibility to his own interpretation of Sikh history and then propagate whatever he wanted, people with direct knowledge of the matter in the government told NDTV, asking not to be named.
"Amritpal Singh was eyeing the SGPC, which is a mini parliament of Sikhs, to give credibility to his own interpretation of Sikh history and propagate whatever he desires," a senior government officer said, referring to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, or SGPC.
Investigation so far shows that Amritpal Singh, in the name of propagating religion, has been using people as tools for promoting his violent radical ideology, sources said.
"Not considering the sanctity of a pious places like gurdwara, goons of Amritpal Singh on his directions vandalised two gurdwaras - Kapurthala and Jalandhar - for following the tradition of keeping some furniture for the elderly and the differently abled to sit," an intelligence report given to the Home Ministry said.
The SGPC on Monday, however, asked the Punjab government to stop arresting "innocent" Sikhs amid the police crackdown on Amritpal Singh and his aides.
The top gurdwara body also strongly condemned what it alleged were "excesses" being committed by the police against Sikhs in Punjab for the past few days.
The Punjab Police have arrested more than 120 people, including members of 'Waris Punjab De', a radical group headed by Amritpal Singh.
The centre today justified the arrest of Amritpal Singh's aides under the stringent National Security Act, or NSA, 1980 by citing a range of charges including sourcing and stockpiling weapons with help from Pakistan's spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI.
"WPD (Waris Punjab De) has been using young people for violent acts and promoting gun culture by naming (Amritpal Singh's) private militia Anandpur Khalsa Fauj (AKF). They are a threat to national integrity. They openly declared they do not believe in the state and defied the Punjab government's order not to display weapons in the open," an officer involved in the investigation told NDTV.
The banned outfit, Sikhs for Justice, has come out in support of the WPD. This is a big cause of concern, the officer said, adding it was decided at the highest level to send the arrested aides of the Khalistani leader to high-security jails outside Punjab.
"There were reports that they would have radicalised other jailed criminals in Punjab and would have associated them with the AKF," the officer said.
Amritpal Singh is still on the run. He was seen on CCTV camera leaving the home of a woman in Haryana who had sheltered him while he was fleeing from the police on Monday. The footage shows the wanted Khalistani leader, carrying an umbrella to hide his face, leaving the house in a white shirt and dark blue jeans.