The Punjab government has extended the suspension of internet and SMS services till Monday noon, as the hunt for Sikh preacher and Khalistan sympathizer Amritpal Singh continues.
State authorities on Saturday suspended internet and SMS services till Sunday noon.
Earlier, the police said they will arrest the escaped preacher soon.
“In exercise of the powers conferred on me under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, it is directed that all mobile internet services (2G/3G/45/5G/CDMA/GPRS), all SMS services (except banking and mobile recharge) also all dongle services provided on mobile networks, except for voice calls, in the Punjab region will also be suspended from March 19 (12.00 hours) to March 20 (12.00 hours) to prevent any incitement to violence or any disturbance of public peace and order,” said an official order issued on Sunday.
Broadband services are not suspended so that banking institutions, hospital services and other essential services are not disrupted, said the order issued by the additional chief secretary.
Speaking to reporters near Nakodar in Jalandhar on Saturday night, Jalandhar Police Commissioner Kuldeep Sinh Chahal said, “Amritpal Singh is now a fugitive and we are looking for him and will arrest him soon.”
He also said that two cars belonging to the preacher were seized.
The Punjab government on Saturday launched a major crackdown on Amritpal, with police arresting 78 members of his outfit, officials said.
The injured preacher, however, gave police the slip and escaped their net when his horse was intercepted in Jalandhar district, as authorities tightened security in several areas of the northern state.
Police said they have launched a “major nationwide search operation (CASO)” against the ‘Waris Punjab De’ (WPD) group, led by Amritpal, against whom many criminal cases have been registered.
The police action also comes ahead of the start of Amritpal’s ‘Khalsa Wahir’ – a religious procession – from Muktsar district.
During the national operation, nine weapons were found, including one .315 rifle, seven 12 bore guns, one revolver and 373 cartridges of different types so far, said the police.
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Security has been tightened in many places in Punjab as security forces check vehicles.
The police spokesperson informed that WPD units are involved in four criminal cases related to spreading discord between classes, attempted murder, assaulting the police and obstructing the official work of public servants.
An FIR dated February 24 stands registered against WPD units for the attack on Ajnala police station.
Last month, Amritpal and his followers, some of them brandishing swords and guns, broke through the barricades and entered the Ajnala police station on the outskirts of Amritsar city, brawling with the police for the release of one of Amritpal’s aides.
After the incident, in which six policemen, including a superintendent of police rank, were injured, the AAP government in the state faced a barrage of accusations and was accused of kowtowing to extremists.
Amritpal who returned to Dubai last year was appointed the head of ‘Waris Punjab De’, founded by actor and activist Deep Sidhu who died in a road accident in February last year.