Chandigarh, March 18
Facing a flak over the alleged deteriorating law and order situation in the state, the Punjab Police today launched a massive crackdown on “Waris Punjab De”, arresting 78 activists in Jalandhar district. The police, however, failed to arrest pro-Khalistan activist Amritpal Singh, who fled despite a heavy deployment of forces in the Shahkot area of Jalandhar.
The police claimed they had seized one .315 bore rifle, seven 12 bore rifles, one revolver and 373 cartridges from the activists.
A massive cordon and search operation was launched on Saturday afternoon by putting into action hundreds of police personnel and vehicles to chase the separatist through villages in the Shahkot-Malsian and Mehatpur areas of the district.
Amritpal and his supporters are accused of spreading communal tension in the state. As the operation went underway, the Punjab Government suspended mobile internet services in the state till Sunday noon to prevent spreading of rumours and possible tension. The police let TV channels run the news of Amritpal’s arrest since 3 pm, but in a press release issued at 9 pm, they stated that the radical leader was still on the run.
In the release, the police did not mention Amritpal as a Khalistani activist. Instead, they termed him and his supporters as “elements” of “Waris Punjab De”. The outfit was founded by late Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu during the agitation against the now-repealed three farm laws.
The police said while 78 persons were arrested, several were detained for questioning. A police spokesperson said “Waris Punjab De” elements were involved in spreading communal disharmony, murder bid, attack on cops and creating obstruction in the lawful discharge of duty by public servants.
Appeal for calm
Avoid rumours on social media... maintain peace & harmony. Citizens need not panic and must not spread fake news. — Punjab Police
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