New Delhi: With ‘Waris Punjab De’ chief and Khalistan sympathizer Amritpal Singh still on the run, the suspension on all mobile internet, SMS, and dongle services in Punjab was on Sunday (March 19) extended till March 20. An official statement from the Bhagwant Mann-led government said that mobile internet services will remain suspended in Punjab till 12 pm on March 20 in the “interest of public safety”. The state authorities had on Saturday suspended the internet and SMS services till Sunday noon.

“It is directed that all mobile internet services (2G/3G/45/5G/CDMA/GPRS), all SMS services (excluding banking and mobile recharge) and all dongle services provided on mobile networks, except voice calls, in the territorial jurisdiction of Punjab shall be further suspended from March 19 (12.00 hours) to March 20 (12.00 hours) to prevent any incitement to violence and any disturbance of peace and public order,” an official order issued on Sunday said.

The broadband services are not being suspended so that banking facilities, hospital services and other essential services are not disrupted, the order issued by the additional chief secretary read further.

A manhunt is currently on to nab radical Sikh preacher Amritpal Singh.

“He is now a fugitive and we are looking for him and we will soon arrest him,” Jalandhar Police Commissioner Kuldeep Singh Chahal told reporters near Nakodar in Jalandhar late Saturday night.

Chahal said six to seven gunmen of Amritpal Singh have been arrested.

Mobile internet in Punjab was suspended after crackdown against Amritpal Singh

The Punjab government had on Saturday launched a major crackdown against Amritpal Singh and arrested 78 members of an outfit — Waris Punjab De — headed by him.

The elusive preacher himself, however, gave the police a slip and escaped their dragnet when his cavalcade was intercepted in the Jalandhar district.

As the operation went underway, authorities stepped up security at several places and suspended internet and SMS services in the state till Sunday noon.

During their state-wide operation, police also seized one .315-bore rifle, seven 12-bore rifles, one revolver, and 373 live cartridges of a different caliber.

Security has been tightened at many places in Punjab with intensive vehicle checking.

Earlier last month, Amritpal Singh and his supporters — some of them brandishing swords and guns —  broke through barricades and barged into the Ajnala Police Station on the outskirts of the Amritsar city, clashing with police for the release of one of Amritpal’s aides.

After the incident, in which six policemen including a Superintendent of Police rank officer had suffered injuries, the Mann-led government in the state had faced severe flak and was accused of kowtowing to extremists.

Dubai-returned Amritpal Singh was last year anointed the head of ‘Waris Punjab De’, which was founded by actor and activist Deep Sidhu who died in a road accident in February last year.

(With agency inputs)

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