Amritsar man missing from jatha in Pak: Kin say he called only on first day of trip, seek probe
The family of Amarjit Singh, 24, who went missing while on a pilgrimage with a jatha (group) to Sikh shrines in Pakistan, said on Sunday that they had no contact with him after the beginning of the April 12-21 trip. A resident of Naranjanpur village, 44 km from Amritsar, had gone there as part of a 1,796-member group to celebrate Baisakhi at Gurdwara Panja Sahib.
His disappearance came to light on Saturday, the day the Lahore high court directed Pakistan’s interior ministry to decide within 30 days the fate of another jatha member Kiran Bala from Hoshiarpur district, who converted to Islam, took the name Amna Bibi, married a local man and moved the court for visa extension and eventual citizenship.
Amarjit’s younger brother Prabhjit Singh told HT on Sunday that on April 11 he dropped him off at a bus stop in Rayya from where he went to Amritsar, to head to Pakistan with the jatha. “On April 12, in the morning, I got a call from him; he asked about the family’s well-being but the call got disconnected. I tried to call him back but his number has been unreachable since.”
The jatha coordinated by various Sikh groups, including the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), left for Pakistan via the Attari-Wagah land border.
Prabhjit further said Amarjit, who never attended school, went to Pakistan for the stated objective of paying obeisance only at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib. “Before leaving home, he said that after paying obeisance there he would come back,” he said. On Saturday evening, after the jatha returned without him, the family came to know about his disappearance from the police. “We have given a written complain about his going missing to the Khalchian (area) police station,” he said.
While the family members said they could not say what may have prompted Amarjit to go missing, the sarpanch of the village, Jassa Singh, said it could be a case of “honeytrap”. He said he had come to know from neighbours that he was “on the phone a lot for the last two months. “I have requested the police to investigate his call details,” he said.
Father Rajinder Singh said Amarjit had gone to Malaysia last year as a construction worker and returned in December. He was now helping the family in farm work and “was normal in behaviour”. “I appeal to the government of India to bring back my son,” he said. “Pata nahin oh kehde halaatan vich hona ae (We don’t know in what circumstances he is)!” said Amarjit’s mother, Gian Kaur, adding that it is the responsibility of the Union government to bring him back “somehow”.
Deputy commissioner (DC), Amritsar, Kamaldeep Singh Sangha said he had no information. Senior superintendent of police (SSP) (rural) Parampal Singh, however, said no case has been registered so far “as the matter is under the jurisdiction of the immigration department”.