SIX days after a state-wide manhunt was launched for his arrest in the Indian state of Punjab, controversial Sikh preacher Amritpal Singh continued to evade the authorities, Indian media reported on Friday.

The search has been expanded to the states bordering Punjab after Mr Singh’s last location was traced to the Kurukshetra district of Haryana state, south of Punjab, according to Indian news channel NDTV.

According to officials, Mr Singh was in Kurukshetra a day after fleeing the police in Punjab last Saturday. A woman who sheltered him and his associate Papalpreet Singh at her home on Sunday has been arrested, NDTV reported.

Mr Singh has been on a dramatic run since he tricked the chasing police party in Punjab’s Jalandhar district on Saturday. Within 12 hours of the escape, he changed five vehicles.

On Saturday, Mr Singh was seen inside a Mercedes SUV before he changed the vehicle and his attire. After covering some distance, he deserted the vehicle and got on a motorcycle with Mr Papalpreet. When the bike ran out of fuel, the duo got on a diesel-run three-wheeler and then stole another motorcycle, according to NDTV.

Officials now believe that Mr Singh had already crossed the state’s borders while efforts to locate him remained focused in Punjab over the past six days. The search has now been extended to the states of Maharashtra, Haryana and Uttarakhand, Times of India reported.

Authorities have also started easing the internet blackout and mobile service restrictions imposed last week in Punjab during the manhunt.

The restrictions in Punjab’s Moga, Sangrur, Ajnala and Mohali have been lifted while curbs were extended to Tarn Taran and Ferozepur districts till March 24, according to Indian media.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2023

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