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Deep Sidhu loyalists, musclemen & social media warriors — the men who made Amritpal

Some of them, including Amritpal's uncle Harjit Singh and Punjabi actor Daljeet Kalsi, are now behind bars. NRIs from UK & US also part of radical preacher's core team.

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New Delhi: On 20 August last year when Amritpal Singh dressed in white kurta pyjama landed from Dubai in Punjab, he was a nonentity. This despite him being anointed the head of the Waris Punjab De (WPD) by a breakaway faction of the outfit created by actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu.

Seven months on, Amritpal is on the run. He is wanted under the National Security Act (NSA) for activities “prejudicial to the security of India and the maintenance of public order.” As many as 154 people with direct or indirect links to him have been arrested since Saturday, when the police launched a major crackdown on radical Sikh elements in Punjab. 

There is evidence to suggest that Amritpal has links with Pakistan’s ISI and is involved in hawala transactions, the police said. Hordes of weapons were recovered from his men and cars. Apart from espousing the cause of Khalistan, Amritpal was also raising an armed unit, the Anandpur Khalsa Fauj, they said.

How did a 29-year-old, 12th pass transporter from Dubai come to this? ThePrint gives the low-down on the men who made Amritpal, after accessing a Punjab Police dossier on them. 

The Kingmakers 

Daljeet Kalsi: Born Sarabjit Singh, Punjabi actor Daljeet Kalsi aka Jeet Kalsi claims that he took his father’s name Daljeet after he lost him. Kalsi is also the head of a multilevel marketing company, Sterling Life India Pvt, and was actively pursuing business in 2013.

Kalsi was originally associated with Deep Sidhu, whom he supported during the farmers agitation and was also a part of the original team of Waris Punjab De. 

He was instrumental in handing over the outfit’s headship to Amritpal soon after Sidhu died in a car accident on 15 February last year. Kalsi along with some members of Sidhu’s team announced Amritpal as head on 4 March, while openly attacking Sidhu’s mentor and guide, former militant Palwinder Singh Talwara, who was being projected as the heir. 

As the wait began for Amritpal to arrive, Kalsi took a trip to Dubai, the UK and Canada. He met him in Dubai and Avtar Singh Khanda, a Khalistan supporter, in the UK. In an interview in the UK, Kalsi justified his choice of Amritpal, saying there was nobody in WPD at that time who could represent its views before national and international audiences better than Amritpal. 

Held under the NSA and put up in Assam’s Dibrugarh jail, Kalsi is being probed for his alleged role of gathering Rs 35-40 crore through the WPD activities. 

Gurmeet Singh Bukkanwala: A former associate of Sidhu and Kalsi, Bukkanwala supported the latter in giving the WPD command to Amritpal. He is among the group of Amritpal’s close associates and has been with him from the day the self-styled preacher returned to India. 

He was made the Waris Punjab De in charge of Moga district. On 23 February, Bukkanwala was taken into preventive custody near Harike when he was proceeding with his men to the Ajnala police station. 

Owner of a furniture shop in Moga, Bukkanwala has been providing logistics support to WPD. According to the police, at least one of the Endeavour cars in Amritpal’s cavalcade is in the name of Bukkanwala’s brother-in-law and the financing of the vehicle is under investigation. 

Basant Singh Daulatpura: A former associate of Sidhu who handled his office and doubled up as WPD’s manager, Basant was initially attached to Amritpal as a bodyguard. Later, he started looking after the drug de-addiction centre at Amritpal’s native village Jallu Khera. 

According to the police, he was trying to de-addict the youth using herbal medicines but did not meet with much success and most of the inmates would leave the centre. Police sources stated that a philanthropist had recently donated his dera land near Barnala to Amritpal, who handed it over to Basant to start a larger de-addiction facility. 

Gurpreet Singh: A radicalised folk singer inspired by Sidhu, Gurpreet was among the group of radical youth who captured the Samyukta Morcha stage on the eve of Republic Day in 2021. He accompanied Sidhu to the Red Fort the next day. He became a WPD member and supported Amritpal after Sidhu’s death.

In May last year, Gurpreet was arrested for a day following the Patiala communal violence. He was made the WPD head of Tarn Taran district. He allegedly used social media to spread Amritpal’s messages and had gone live to gather youth on the day of the Ajnala violence. According to the police, Gurpreet is also under the scanner for possible hawala transactions. 

Also Read: As Mann says Punjab stands firm on Amritpal crackdown, a look at how radical preacher got long rope for months

Mentor & Guide

Papalpreet Singh: A radical Sikh intellectual and scholar, Papalpreet took Amritpal under his wing a day after he arrived in Punjab. He familiarised him with Sikh history and the Khalistan movement of the 1980s-1990s. Papalpreet has been generating interviews with former militants and also journaling incidents of the days of militancy. 

Many of his social media accounts have been banned over the years, said police sources, adding he provided an intellectual justification for Amritpal’s utterances and encouraged him in the process. Papalpreet was one of the accused in a sedition case filed against the organisers of the Sarbat Khalsa at Chabba village in 2015. Papalpreet, according to the police, was sitting in the same vehicle with Amritpal when he managed to evade arrest Saturday and is now suspected to be with him on the run. 

Kulwant Singh Rauke: Another known radical who joined hands with Sidhu and later came in support of Amritpal. Kulwant is the son of Charat Singh, a sarpanch of Rauke Kalan village in Moga. Suspected to be involved in militant activities, Charat Singh went missing in 1993 and has not been found since. Rauke was 9 years old then. According to the police, he is playing the role of an advisor to Amritpal. He is employed as cashier in the Punjab State Power Corporation. He organised a Samagam scheduled 25 March in the memory of his father in which Amritpal was to speak. He has now been arrested under the NSA.

The Managers

Harjit Singh: Amritpal’s uncle was instrumental in setting up a successful transport business in Canada and the UK. After Amritpal showed no interest in higher studies, Harjit called him to Dubai to handle a part of the business in 2012. However when Amritpal was made the WPD head, he returned with him. A baptised Sikh, Harjit essayed the role of Amritpal’s manager and was also in charge of monetary activities. 

He accompanied Amritpal in almost every religious function, though he remained in the background and never spoke on the stage. Like almost everyone around Amritpal, Harjit carried multiple weapons with him. He is also now arrested under the NSA and is in Dibrugarh jail. 

Harmel Singh Jodhe: A close associate of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann, Jodhe is the party’s youth wing president of Amritsar district. He has been a shadow to Amritpal since his arrival from Dubai and has helped him get invites to religious functions. According to the police, he is the connection between Maan and Amritpal, and organises joint events of WPD and SAD (Amritsar).

The Security Ring

The four most visible men around Amritpal seen carrying weapons and are part of his inner security ring are Sukhdeep Singh alias Satrana Singh Khalsa, Gurbhej Gondara alias Sarpanch, Varinder Singh Johal alias Fauji, and Vikram Singh

Arms licences of some of these men around Amritpal were being cancelled before the Saturday crackdown . 

According to the police, Fauji served in the army but was removed from service. Fauji, who had a licence to carry weapons, made his way into Amritpal’s security ring. In January, he was arrested for firing a weapon in the air after a video went viral. 

Amritpal, who had just been discharged from a hospital in Amritsar, visited the police station along with a handful of his supporters to demand Fauji’s release. He was later released from jail on 24 January. 

Vikram Singh was found abandoned as a child in a gurdwara in Nawanshahr, the police said, adding that he is a highly radicalised, rash and unstinting Khalistan supporter. It was a tiff with Vikram Singh that led Chamkaur Sahib resident Varinder Singh to speak against Amritpal leading to the series of events that led to the Ajnala violence, police sources said.

Social Media Warriors 

Gurinder Pal Aujla: UK-based Aujla was handling the social media network of Sidhu and was among the first to spot Amritpal through his social media posts. He was among those who participated in the initial meetings featuring Sidhu and Amritpal on the Clubhouse app. When Amritpal became the WPD head, he continued to handle its social media network.

According to the police, Aujla was living with his brother in Kukkar Pind village in Jalandhar and controlled over 200 social media accounts to spread Amritpal’s messages and other radical content. A case was registered against him on February 20th for brandishing weapons but he evaded arrest. Early this month, he was stopped from fleeing abroad and was detained at the airport in Amritsar. He managed to get bail in that case. Aujla is now arrested under the NSA and has been taken to Dibrugarh jail.

Chacha Baghel Singh: In the first week of September last year, Amritpal met the family of Chacha Baghel Singh whose social media profile is hugely controversial. The US-based man has gained notoriety for his caustic tongue and abusive posts. His support for Amritpal is unwavering and is known to launch verbal abuses on anyone opposing Amritpal.

Bhagwant Singh alias Pradhan Mantri Bajeke: An outspoken radical satirist who was on and off associated with Sidhu and then Amritpal. He is from Moga and was using social media to present his views about Sikh issues using the pseudonym, Pradhan Mantri. A case against him was registered in Moga under the Arms Act in November. He also faces multiple other cases including an attempted murder case of 2015, but is out on bail in all of them. His video of running away from the police Saturday had gone viral. He, too, is now in Dibrugarh jail. 

The Loyalists

(From left to right) Baljinder Singh, Gurmeet Singh Bukkanwala and Jagmohan Singh Jagga are associates of Amritpal Singh | Pic courtesy: Facebook
(From left to right) Baljinder Singh, Gurmeet Singh Bukkanwala and Jagmohan Singh Jagga are associates of Amritpal Singh | Pic courtesy: Facebook

Lovepreet Singh alias Toofan: From Tibri village in Gurdaspur, Toofan is the Gurdaspur district head of WPD. He had played a role in the farmers’ agitation. He came into limelight in November when Right-wing leader Harvinder Soni was arrested for a hate speech on his complaint. The Shiv Sena (Bal Thackery) leader had, in a video message, ridiculed the Sikhs following which Toofan along with several Nihangs demanded the registration of an FIR against Soni. 

Toofan was arrested on 17 February, a day after the first case against Amritpal and 25 other associates was registered at the Ajnala police station. According to the police, Toofan was arrested for kidnapping the complainant, Varinder Singh. 

He, however, was released a day after Amritpal with hundreds of supporters stormed the Ajnala police station seeking his release. 

Jagmohan Singh Jagga and Baljinder Singh: Amritpal assigned the duo with various tasks to deal with complaints of people who meet him seeking resolution of their problems, the police said. However, not much details are known about them except that both were earlier with Sidhu and were now close associates of Amritpal. 

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: ‘You have 80k cops. How did Amritpal Singh escape?’ Court asks Punjab govt; borders alerted


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