Separatist arrested, Punjab shuts down internet

The action against the Khalistani leader comes after Amritpal’s supporters clashed with police in Amritsar last month

Khalistani leader and Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal Singh was arrested near Jalandhars Nakodar on Saturday. File Pic/ANI

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Mobile internet services have been suspended in several districts of Punjab until noon today, state police said after launching an operation to arrest suspected pro-Khalistan group Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal Singh and his aides. Section 144 has also been implemented.

“All mobile internet services, all SMS services [except banking and mobile recharge] and all dongle services provided in cellular networks, except voice call, in Punjab territorial jurisdiction will be suspended from March 18-19 in the interest of public security,” said the Punjab Ministry of Home Affairs and Justice. The police action came nearly three weeks after Amritpal* supporters clashed with police officers at Ajnala police station on the outskirts of Amritsar last month demanding the release of Lovepreet Toofan, a close Amritpal* associate.

On February 23, thousands of his supporters stormed the Ajnala police station, blitzed with swords and large caliber firearms and threatened police with dire consequences if they did not release Lovepreet Toofan, who had been arrested for allegedly assaulting and kidnapping a man. Supporters broke through sword- and rifle-wielding police barricades set up in front of Ajnala Police Station. Police later said “in the light of the evidence presented” it had been decided that Toofan would be fired. Toofan was released from custody on February 24 by order of a court in Ajnala at the request of the police.

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In response to the incident, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said these “1,000 people” do not represent Punjab and claimed they were “funded by Pakistan” to disrupt the peace in the state. Punjab police on Saturday appealed to citizens to “keep peace and harmony in the state” and stay away from “fake news”.

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