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Punjab Police launch massive manhunt as Amritpal Singh escapes arrest

Internet, SMS services suspended till Sunday noon

A massive manhunt is under way to nab Amritpal after he escaped arrest in the morning A massive manhunt is under way to nab Amritpal after he escaped arrest in the morning

Punjab Police denied media reports that 'Waris Punjab De' chief Amritpal Singh, who is facing charges of spreading communal tension in the state, has been arrested and said the radical preacher is still on the run. In a statement issued on Saturday night, police said 78 persons associated with 'Waris Punjab De' outfit have been arrested.

A massive manhunt is under way to nab Amritpal after he escaped arrest in the morning. Police had intercepted the Khalistan sympathiser's cavalcade in Mehatpur village in Jalandhar district, but he managed to give the cops a slip. Later in the afternoon, several media reports claimed that police apprehended the separatist leader after a long chase, but officials later denied it.

Some supporters of 'Waris Punjab De' chief shared some videos on social media claiming that policemen were chasing them. A video also showed Amritpal sitting in a vehicle and one of his aides could be heard saying policemen were after 'Bhai saab' (Amritpal).

Meanwhile, the state home affairs department ordered suspension of internet services in the state till Sunday noon, citing probable incitement to violence by some people.

“It is directed that all mobile internet services , 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 suspended from March 18 (12.00 hours) to March 19 (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," the order said.

Several companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed at various checkpoints and other locations to deal with any law and order situation. Heavy deployment of security forces has been made near village Jallupur Khera in Amritsar, the native place of Amritpal.

Police had filed a case against Amritpal and six of his associates after man complained at Ajnala Police Station alleging he had been kidnapped and beaten by the associates of the radical preacher. Police also arrested Lovepreet Singh Toofan, a close associate of Amritpal, in connection with the case.

Following this, hundreds of supporters of Amritpal, some of them brandishing swords and guns, broke through barricades and barged into the Ajnala Police Station in the outskirts of the Amritsar city, clashing with police demanding the release of Toofan. Toofan was released under pressure but only after the police informed the court that they would be investigating the matter further.

During the incident, six policemen including a Superintendent of Police rank officer had suffered injuries. 

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