Indian Sikh separatist and Kashmir leader elected from jail


An Indian Sikh separatist and a staunch opponent of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from disputed Kashmir were both set to be elected lawmakers from behind bars on Tuesday.

Firebrand preacher Amritpal Singh, 31, a Sikh separatist leader arrested last year after a month-long police manhunt in Punjab state, defeated 26 other candidates including 17 independents in Khadoor Sahib constituency.

Singh rose to prominence calling for a separate Sikh homeland known as Khalistan, the struggle for which sparked deadly violence in India in the 1980s and 1990s.

His mother thanked the voters for their support and “love” for her son, who won nearly 200,000 more votes than his nearest rival as an independent. “I sincerely thank all the supporters from the bottom of my heart,” Balwinder Kaur told reporters.

“Our victory is dedicated to the martyrs.” Weeks before Singh’s April 2023 arrest, he and armed supporters raided a police station, after one of the self-styled preacher’s aides was arrested for assault and attempted kidnapping.

Singh has styled himself after Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a figurehead of the Khalistan movement, who was killed when the Indian army stormed the Golden Temple in Amritsar, a major Sikh site, in 1984. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was shot dead by two of her bodyguards later that year in retaliation for ordering the attack on the temple.

In another twist, the son of one of her assassins was also elected to India’s parliament on Tuesday from another constituency in Punjab.__Daily Times