A major police crackdown is underway in Punjab against radical preacher Amritpal Singh and his followers, accused of spreading communal tensions in the state.
As the operation unfolded, the Punjab government suspended internet services in the state until midday Sunday to prevent the circulation of rumors and possible tensions.
Officials familiar with the development said six close supporters of Singh had been detained so far while a manhunt to locate the radical preacher was still underway.
They said the preacher was nearly caught but managed to report the approaching police squad, who intercepted his cavalcade in the village of Mehatpur in Jalandhar district on Saturday.
Some supporters of the “Waris Punjab De” leader shared videos on social media claiming that police officers were chasing them. A video also showed Amritpal sitting in a vehicle and one of his aides could be heard saying that the police were after “Bhai saab” (Amritpal).
Punjab Police had registered cases against Singh and his followers earlier last week in Ajnala for alleged hate speech. Singh gained notoriety in February this year when a man complained to Ajnala police station alleging he had been kidnapped and beaten by the radical preacher’s associates.
An FIR has been registered against Amritpal Singh and six of his associates. Police then arrested a Lovepreet Singh Toofan, a close associate of Amritpal, in the matter.
Toofan’s arrest prompted Amritpal to issue a police warning to revoke the case against him, and the case turned sour as hundreds of his supporters broke through police barricades and stormed the police compound, armed with automatic pistols and edged weapons.
Toofan was released under pressure, but only after police told the court they would investigate the case further.
During the incident, six police officers, including a senior police officer, were injured.
As the crackdown continued on Saturday, videos of radical preachers circulated on social media, including one shared by a supporter, who claimed police were on his trail.
A massive deployment of security forces was carried out near the village of Jallupur Khera in Amritsar, the place of origin of Amritpal.
Meanwhile, the Punjab Police have asked people to maintain peace and harmony.
“Ask all citizens to maintain peace and harmony Punjab Police strive to maintain law and order. Ask citizens not to panic or spread fake news or hate speech,” he said in a tweet.
Earlier this month, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann called Union Home Secretary Amit Shah and discussed the law and order situation in the border state with him. .
The Center had sent around 1,900 personnel from the CRPF and its specialized RAF riot control unit to reinforce the security network.
Last week, the Union Home Ministry also ordered the deployment of 18 companies to Punjab for “aid of the state government during law enforcement duties”.
Of the 18 contingents, eight are drawn from the Riot Rapid Action Force (RAF) while the rest are regulars. The overall workforce of these companies is around 19,000 people.
Officials said the Union Home Ministry was “closely monitoring” the situation in Punjab following renewed activities by some Khalistan supporters.
Amritpal Singh, back in Dubai, was appointed last year to head ‘Waris Punjab De’, which was founded by actor and activist Deep Sidhu, who died in a traffic accident in February. last year.
The event took place in Moga’s Rode, the home village of slain activist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.