Radical preacher Amritpal Singh’s aide and kidnapping accused Lovepreet Singh ‘Toofan’ walked out of jail here Friday, a day after hundreds of protesters stormed a police station demanding his release.
Lovepreet Singh was released from the Amritsar Central Jail, hours after a court in Ajnala issued orders to discharge him from custody based on an application by the police.
On Thursday, Khalistan sympathiser Amritpal Singh’s supporters, some of them brandishing swords and guns, broke though barricades and barged into a police station in Ajnala on the outskirts of the Amritsar city, extracting an assurance from the police that Lovepreet Singh will be released.
The Punjab Police then moved an application before the court for discharging Lovepreet Singh on the grounds that the investigation found that he was not present at the spot when the offence was committed.
Tight security was in place in Ajnala police station and Ajnala town here on Friday.
Lovepreet Singh was welcomed by the supporters when he walked out of the jail.
Earlier, after the court issued its order, Amritpal Singh told reporters that the release of his aide was “Victory of the Panth”.
“He was put in jail in a false case,” alleged Amritpal Singh.
Dubai-returned Amritpal Singh, who heads an organisation called ‘Waris Punjab De’, had Thursday talked to reporters at the police station, issuing an “ultimatum” for the release of Lovepreet Singh.
In its order, the court said, “Since the accused is no more required by the investigating officer for judicial custody, accordingly, accused Lovepreet Singh is discharged from the custody only and be released”.
“It is made clear that the accused Lovepreet Singh..is discharged from custody. A direction is issued to the SHO concerned to conduct investigation in the case and submit its report. Necessary intimation be sent to Superintendent of Jail, Amritsar, in this regard,” Manpreet Kaur, Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Ajnala, said in her order.
A long cavalcade of vehicles led by Amritpal Singh had headed towards the jail from the Ajnala town to receive Lovepreet Singh. They later went to the Golden Temple to pay obeisance there.
A case was registered in Ajnala on February 16 against Amritpal Singh and his 30 supporters for allegedly kidnapping and thrashing Barinder Singh, a resident of Chamkaur Sahib in Rupnagar district.
Barinder Singh, in his complaint, had told police that Amritpal Singh’s associates had abducted him from Ajnala and took him to an unknown place where he was brutally thrashed.
The case was registered against the accused under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code including sections 365 (kidnapping), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 506 (criminal intimidation), 148 (rioting) and 149 (unlawful assembly).
Six policemen were hurt during the Thursday’s clash, officials said.
Amritpal Singh told reporters that police had used force against some of his supporters on Thursday without any provocation.
He further said, “Yesterday’s situation could have been averted had police listened to us. The consequences which arose were not created by me. The administration had sought time earlier, we gave them time till Wednesday. We came to Thursday here,” he said referring to the demand for Lovepreet Singh’s release.
“We have given enough evidence pertaining to Lovepreet Singh and our innocence (in the case),” Amritpal Singh said.
On Thursday, a large police force kept watch but refrained from taking any action as the preacher, often described as a Khalistan sympathiser, and other protesters stayed put at the Ajnala police station for hours.
Earlier that day, Amritpal Singh’s supporters had staged a protest in the middle of the road at Dhilwan toll plaza in Kapurthala district after being stopped by the police from marching towards the Ajnala police station. But the police later allowed them to continue with their march.
The protesters had also brought a vehicle carrying a copy of the “Guru Granth Sahib” for holding ‘Amrit Sanchar’ (a Sikh ceremony) at the police station.
Amritpal Singh was recently anointed head of ‘Waris Punjab De’ organisation founded by actor and activist Deep Sidhu who died in a road accident in February last year. The event was held at Moga’s Rode, the native village of slain militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.