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Internet In Punjab To Remain Suspended Till March 21 As Manhunt Continues For Amritpal Singh

Internet in Punjab is suspended since Saturday when the Bhagwant Mann-led government launched a major crackdown against 'Waris Punjab De' chief and pro-Khalistan leader Amritpal Singh.

Internet In Punjab To Remain Suspended Till March 21 As Manhunt Continues For Amritpal Singh Internet In Punjab To Remain Suspended Till March 21 As Manhunt Continues For Amritpal Singh

New Delhi: The Bhagwant Mann-led government on Monday (March 20, 2023) again extended the suspension on all mobile internet, SMS, and dongle services in Punjab as the police continued its manhunt to nab 'Waris Punjab De' chief and Khalistan sympathizer Amritpal Singh. An official order from the Punjab government said that mobile internet services will remain suspended in Punjab till 12 pm on March 21. The state authorities had first suspended the internet and SMS services on Saturday till Sunday noon, which was then extended till Monday 12 pm.

"Director General of Police, Punjab has brought to my notice that certain sections of society are holding protests at several places in the State and are likely to threaten public order by incitement to violence as also resorting to widespread violence with an aim to stoke and cause communal tension, obstruction or injury to persons, danger to human life and property, disturbance of public peace and tranquillity thereby threatening public safety and public order in the State of Punjab," the order by Additional Chief Secretary to Government of Punjab, Home Department, read.

The official said that the Punjab DGP has brought to his notice that these "sections of society" widely use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc, and also Short Message Service (SMS) for spreading "inflammatory material" and "false rumours", to provoke mobilization of mobs of agitators and demonstrators, mobilize their own manpower and resources for their "anti-national activities".

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"There is a clear continuation of the potential of threat to public safety, disruption of public utilities, damage to public assets and amenities, and disturbance of public law and order in the State of Punjab on account of misuse of mobile internet services, SMS services, and other dongle services," the Additional Chief Secretary added.

"Therefore, in exercise of powers conferred on me, it is directed that all mobile internet services (2G/3G/4G/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 20/03/2023 (1200 hrs) to 21/03/2023 (1200 hrs)," the order said.

It said that the step has been taken in the interest of public safety, to prevent any incitement to violence, and to prevent any disturbance of peace and public order.

The broadband services are not being suspended so that banking facilities, hospital services, and other essential services are not disrupted, the official order read.

A manhunt is currently on to nab radical Sikh preacher Amritpal Singh.

Internet In Punjab Was Suspended Amid Crackdown Against Amritpal Singh

The Punjab government had on Saturday launched a major crackdown against Amritpal Singh, who escaped the police's dragnet when his cavalcade was intercepted in the Jalandhar district.

As the operation went underway, authorities suspended internet and SMS services in the state.

Since then, security has been tightened at many places in Punjab with intensive vehicle checking.

Cops on Sunday also conducted flag marches and searches across Punjab in their manhunt for Amritpal Singh, arresting 34 more supporters and shifting four men in custody to jail in far-off Assam.

Amritpal Singh's Uncle, Driver Surrender In Jalandhar

Earlier in the day, police informed that Amritpal Singh's uncle and driver have surrendered before them in Jalandhar.

Amritpal's uncle Harjit Singh and driver Harpreet Singh surrendered near a gurdwara in the Mehatpur area late Sunday night, Jalandhar Senior Superintendent of Police (Rural) Swarandeep Singh said.

The Khalistan sympathiser, however, was still on the run, he said.

Earlier last month, Amritpal Singh and his supporters -- some of them brandishing swords and guns --  broke through barricades and barged into the Ajnala Police Station on the outskirts of the Amritsar city, clashing with police for the release of one of Amritpal's aides.

After the incident, in which six policemen including a Superintendent of Police rank officer had suffered injuries, the Mann-led government in the state had faced severe flak and was accused of kowtowing to extremists.

Dubai-returned Amritpal Singh was last year anointed the head of 'Waris Punjab De', which was founded by actor and activist Deep Sidhu who died in a road accident in February last year.