Internet services were suspended across Punjab as police launched an operation to arrest Khalistan sympathizer Amritpal Singh and his aides on Saturday. Hours later, a Khalistani sympathizer was arrested after a cat-and-mouse chase that reportedly included Amritpal's attempt to evade the police by changing vehicles.
Radical Sikh leader and Khalistani sympathizer Amritpal Singh has become active in Punjab in recent weeks as his supporters clashed with police at Ajnala police station on the outskirts of Amritsar last month, demanding the release of one of Amritpal's aides.
Six of Amritpal's aides were reportedly arrested in Jalandhar on Saturday, as per reports. Some supporters of the 'Waris Punjab De' chief shared several videos on social media claiming that they were being chased by the police. The video also showed Amritpal sitting in a vehicle and one of his aides could be heard as policemen searched for "Bhai saab" (Amritpal), the report said. Officials said internet services will remain suspended in Punjab till Sunday.
As the internet was suspended, the Punjab Police appealed to people to maintain peace and harmony and not spread panic, fake news or hate speech. "Punjab Police is working to maintain law and order," the Punjab Police tweeted. “All mobile internet services, all SMS services (except banking and mobile recharge) and all dongle services provided on mobile networks, except voice calls, in the territorial jurisdiction of Punjab will be suspended from March 18 (12:00 noon) to March 19 ( 12:00 p.m.) in the interest of public safety," the government said.
Who is Amritpal Singh, dubbed as 'Bhindranwale 2.0'?
1. Amritpal Singh is a controversial Sikh leader who is the chief of Waris Punjab De formed by Deep Sidhu who was killed in an accident in 2022.
2. A 29-year-old man dresses up as Bhindranwale, who was killed during Operation Bluestar. His supporters call him 'Bhindranwale 2.0.
3. Amritpal Singh came to India in 2022 and took over the reins of Waris Punjab De. He previously worked in Dubai.
4. Amritpal Singh has a huge following and is seen moving around heavily armed, surrounded by his followers.
5. Amritpal hails from Jallu-Pur Khaira village under Baba Bakala town in Amritsar district.
6. A Khalistani leader issued a warning to Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
" Amit Shah said he will not allow the Khalistan movement to rise. I said Indira Gandhi did the same and if you do the same you will have to face the consequences. If the home minister says, like those who are demanding 'Hindu Rashtra', then I will see if he remains the home minister," said Amritpal Singh.