By: Shubham Ghosh
The uncle and driver of fugitive Khalistan leader Amritpal Singh’s on Sunday (19) surrendered before the Jalandhar police, even as the government of the northern Indian state of Punjab extended the suspension of mobile internet and SMS services till Tuesday (21) noon, officials said.
Authorities have launched a massive manhunt for Singh since Saturday (18).
According to police, Amritpal’s uncle Harjit Singh and driver Harpreet Singh surrendered near a gurdwara in Mehatpur area in Jalandhar late Sunday night.
“The hunt for Amritpal is still on,” Jalandhar special superintendent of police (rural) Swarandeep Singh said. The Punjab government extended the suspension of mobile internet and SMS services till Tuesday 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 the voice calls, in the territorial jurisdiction of Punjab shall be further suspended from March 20 (12.00 hours) to March 21 (12.00 hours) in the interest of public safety, to prevent any incitement to violence and to prevent any disturbance of peace and public order,” according to an order issued by the state’s department of home affairs and justice issued on Monday (20).
The broadband services are not being suspended so that banking facilities, hospital services and other essential services are not disrupted, said the order issued by the state’s additional chief secretary.
The state authorities had on Saturday suspended the internet and SMS services till Sunday noon. Later, the curbs were extended till Monday noon.
Meanwhile, Amritpal’s Mercedes is learnt to have been seized by police. Earlier, two vehicles of the preacher’s convoy were seized. Police on Saturday had launched a major crackdown against Amritpal and members of his outfit Waris Punjab De.
The elusive preacher, however, gave police the slip and escaped their dragnet when his cavalcade was intercepted in Jalandhar district. Police on Sunday had conducted flag marches and searches across Punjab, arresting 34 more supporters and shifting four men in custody to a jail in the north-eastern state of Assam.
During the ongoing crackdown operations against elements of Waris Punjab De and persons attempting to disturb peace and harmony in the state, the state police has so far arrested 112 people.
The crackdown came weeks after Amritpal and his supporters barged into the Ajnala police station near Amritsar, extracting an assurance that an arrested man would be released.
With the state on high alert, senior officers of Punjab police have asserted that the law and order situation is under control and appealed to the public not to lend an ear to rumours. The police on Sunday also said that it had registered a first-information report (FIR) against Amritpal and his supporters for breaking through a police checkpoint and another related to the recovery of a firearm in the vehicle found in a Jalandhar village.
The Amritsar Rural police had also registered another FIR on Saturday night under the Arms Act after the arrest of seven of the preacher’s associates in that district.
(With PTI inputs)