A fresh CCTV footage has surfaced on social media purportedly showing Papalpreet Singh, a close aide of radical preacher Amritpal Singh, in a "dera" in a village in Hoshiarpur even as police continued their search for them in the district on Saturday.
The footage is said to be of March 29, a day after a team of the counter intelligence wing of the Punjab Police chased an Innova vehicle from Phagwara after it suspected that fugitive Amritpal Singh and his aide could be travelling in it.
The "dera" (a place for religious congregation) whose footage has surfaced is located in village Tanauli, just two to three km away from Marnaian village in Hoshiarpur where the police had launched their massive search for the duo.
Sources said Papalpreet Singh was spotted in the CCTV footage of the dera of Wednesday morning. It is suspected that Papalpreet and Amritpal got separated in Hoshiarpur following the police chase of their vehicle.
Papalpreet Singh is considered one of Amritpal Singh's mentors who had been advising him on various issues.
Police on Friday had expanded their search for Amritpal Singh to "deras" and other possible hideouts of the fugitive preacher in Hoshiarpur district. Police had even deployed a drone to trace the suspects.
The radical preacher has been on the run since a police crackdown on his outfit Waris Punjab De on March 18. He has, however, appeared in two purported videos and an audio clip released on social media in the past few days.
In the video, the Khalistan sympathiser asserted he was not a fugitive and would soon appear before the world.
In the audio clip, he debunked speculation he was negotiating his surrender and nudged the Akal Takht for the second time to summon a "sarbat khalsa" congregation to discuss issues related to the Sikh community.
The hunt to nab Amritpal Singh was launched in Hoshiarpur district Tuesday night following inputs that the radical preacher and his aides could be there.
It began after police chased an Innova SUV from Phagwara, which sources said may have carried Amritpal Singh and his aides. The occupants abandoned the vehicle near Gurdwara Bhai Chanchal Singh in Marnaian and disappeared.
There were also inputs the suspects could have used a Swift car after abandoning the SUV.
Police had recovered another vehicle from Phagwara which they suspected could have been used by the fugitive and his close aide Papalpreet Singh.
Punjab Police have been on a high alert since Amritpal Singh escaped their net in Jalandhar on March 18.
The crackdown on the Waris Punjab De chief was launched about three weeks after his supporters stormed a police station in Ajnala near Amritsar to secure the release of an arrested man.
He and his associates have been booked in several criminal cases related to spreading disharmony among classes, attempt to murder, attack on police personnel and creating obstructions in the lawful discharge of duty by public servants.