The Punjab government told the high court here on Tuesday that they were coordinating with several agencies and close to catching pro-Khalistan preacher Amritpal Singh.
The radical preacher, declared a fugitive by the government, has been on the run since a police crackdown on him and his outfit — Waris Punjab De — began on March 18. Images and videos that emerged on social media have showed him changing his vehicles and appearance multiple times in a bid to dodge police.
However, Punjab police have detained or arrested a number of his associates during the crackdown.
Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has said he has asked the director general of police to release from preventive custody those who were not found to be involved in any anti-national activity. He, however, has added that strict action will be taken against anyone who tries to disturb peace in the state.
On Tuesday, the Punjab and Haryana High Court was hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by advocate Imaan Singh Khara, which claimed that Amritpal Singh was in the "illegal custody" of police.
Punjab Advocate General Vinod Ghai told the court that Amritpal Singh has not been arrested yet and they were coordinating with agencies to nab the radical preacher.
Later, the petitioner told reporters that the AG said in the court that they were close to catching Amritpal Singh.
Justice N S Shekhawat asked the petitioner to file an affidavit to produce evidence that Amritpal Singh was in police custody and pointed out that the state's stand was that the preacher had not been arrested.
The court told the petitioner it would appoint a warrant officer if evidence was placed before it to show that Amritpal Singh was in illegal detention.
The court fixed March 29 as the next date of hearing in the case.
On March 21, the court rapped the Punjab government over the intelligence failure that allowed Amritpal Singh to escape the police crackdown.
Khara is the legal advisor of Amritpal Singh and his outfit.