Amritpal Singh trained by ISI in Georgia, linked to SFJ: Intel
The claims come at a time when Punjab police has launched a manhunt for the secessionist campaigner.
Amritpal Singh, the leader of Waris Punjab De, was trained by Pakistani spy agency ISI in Georgia prior to coming to India and had close links with Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), officials in India’s counter-terrorism apparatus have said, citing new assessments gleaned from the group’s activities.
The claims come at a time when Punjab police has launched a manhunt for the secessionist campaigner, and appear to reinforce the government’s assessment that Amritpal Singh – who has openly backed calls for a separate Khalistan to be carved out of India – is part of a conspiracy by Pakistan to revive militancy in the border state.
A person aware of the intelligence analysis said key portions of the conspiracy was put together in Dubai. “During his stay in Dubai, which is a hub for ISI agents, Amritpal Singh was offered money as part of a well-orchestrated plan to revive militancy in Punjab. He was sent to Georgia for training by ISI before his flight to India,” said an official on Sunday, asking not to be named.
“Amritpal Singh also has links with SFJ and even campaigned for latter’s activities on social media,” he added, identifying Khalistani activist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun as a close contact for Amritpal.
Pannun has designated as a terrorist by the Indian government under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Agencies have also found that Amritpal Singh was running a drugs’ smuggling network in India aided by “known linkages” in the ISI – Pakistan’s spy agency Inter Services Intelligence – and was creating a “private militia” in drug de-addiction centres of Punjab, where weapons procured from Pakistan were being stockpiled.
In fact, ever since he came to India in September 2022, there was a spike in drone intrusions from across the border to drop drugs and weapons.
Elaborating on his drugs and weapons related activities, a second counter-terrorism official said Amritpal was getting drugs into India through Jaswant Singh Rode, brother of Lakhbir Singh Rode (based in Pakistan) as well as his main handler in the UK, Avtar Singh Khanda’s link Paramjeet Singh Pamma.
“Besides, he has links with drug smugglers across the border identified by their pseudo names – Billa, Bilal and Rana,” said this official.
A Mercedes car he used to travel in Punjab is said to have been given to him by a drug dealer identified as Ravel Singh.
Investigations, the first official said, have revealed that drug de-addiction centres that Waris Punjab De claimed to run had become centres for “building a private militia as Amritpal Singh’s associates were inculcating radical thoughts in the inmates, who were to be used at an appropriate time to create law and order problem”.
“Weapons were being stock-piled at these de-addiction centres,” he said.
To prolong the dependence on drugs in inmates at these centres, Amritpal was procuring low quality cheap antidotes.
The Anandpur Khalsa Fauj (AKF) created by him, according to agencies, was “misappropriating funds in the name of Khalistan”. His uncle, Harjit Singh, was helping in the misappropriation, this official added.
As part of the conspiracy to revive militancy, Singh and his AKF were not only defying government orders on open display of weapons but was actively misleading the youth towards a “gun-culture”, said a third official, who asked not to be named.
This official said that Amritpal Singh had the planned his second phase of Khalsa Waheer campaign (to go to villages) from Muktsar sahib (on March 19) to Damdama Sahib (Baisakhi), thereby, trying to increase his influence in Malwa region deliberately on the day of death anniversary of singer Sidhu Moosewala.
Officials added that Singh had “usurped” the legacy of actor Deep Sidhu as he didn’t make efforts to meet his family.