NEW DELHI: India’s Punjab state was on high security alert on Sunday as police launched a manhunt to arrest a Sikh leader.
Punjab police said on Saturday they arrested 78 people in a “mega crackdown” against the Waris Punjab De (Heirs of Punjab) organisation headed by 30-year-old Amritpal Singh, whom the Indian media has described as a radical preacher and a sympathiser of an independent “Khalistan” state.
Amritpal escaped a police chase on Saturday while many of his associates were arrested.
Nine guns were recovered during the operation, the police said.
Mobile internet services and text messaging and all dongle services provided on mobile networks, except voice calls, will remain suspended in Punjab until March 20, media reports said on Sunday, citing the state’s Department of Home Affairs.
The police, in a tweet, asked people “not to panic or spread fake news or hate speech” and said the law and order situation was under control.
Amritpal came to prominence recently with his statements seen as promoting radicalism in the Sikh-majority region of India.
The Waris Punjab De group was set up by actor and activist Deep Sidhu, who was killed in a road crash last year. - Bernama