By: Kimberly Rodrigues
Amid tight security, a significant number of Khalistan supporters held a protest in Times Square, demonstrating their backing for the fugitive radical preacher Amritpal Singh.
The protesters initiated a car rally from the Baba Makhan Shah Lubana Sikh Centre situated in the Richmond Hill neighbourhood, which culminated at Times Square in the heart of Manhattan on Sunday (26) afternoon.
Amidst blaring music and loud horns, numerous cars displaying Khalistani flags and LED mobile billboard trucks featuring photos of Singh drove through the streets surrounding the location.
Men, women, and children amassed in significant numbers at the well-liked New York location, holding Khalistan flags and chanting slogans during the rally.
The demonstrators, holding signs with the message ‘Free Amritpal Singh,’ raised anti-India slogans as they showcased photographs of Singh.
One of the billboards at Times Square also featured a photo of Singh.
The area was heavily guarded by the New York City Police Department (NYPD), with several police vans and cars stationed around the protest. The car rally took place one day after Khalistan supporters had assembled outside the Indian Embassy in Washington, where some of their speakers attempted to incite violence.
However, thanks to the timely intervention of the alert US Secret Service and local police, a repeat of the incidents of vandalism that occurred at the Indian missions in London and San Francisco was avoided.
In a weekly briefing on Friday (24), the spokesman for India’s External Affairs Ministry, Arindam Bagchi, stated that the country anticipates action against the culprits responsible for vandalising its missions overseas, and expressed hope that the governments of the host countries would prosecute those involved, rather than simply offering assurances.
Additionally, Bagchi called on the host governments to take preventative measures to avoid future occurrences. “We are not just interested in assurances,” he stated. “We would like to see action.”
Since March 18, when the police initiated a crackdown against him, Amritpal has been on the run. The elusive radical preacher managed to evade the police and escape their trap when his convoy was intercepted in Jalandhar district of Punjab.
(With inputs from PTI)