To prevent any untoward incident in case of the arrest of absconding Sikh radical preacher Amritpal Singh, head of 'Waris Punjab De', who has been declared a 'fugitive', the police along with CRPF personnel on Sunday conducted flag marches across Punjab.
Punjab Police are planning to book Amritpal Singh under the provisions of the National Security Act (NSA), sources privy to the development told IANS. In the interest of public safety, the government extended the suspension of SMS and mobile Internet services, except the voice call, till Monday noon.
Amritsar Deputy Commissioner of Police Parminder Singh Bhandal told the media that the police have set up 100 checkpoints in Amritsar and city outskirts to physically check vehicles.
CRPF jawans were accompanying the policemen at checkpoints. Officials told IANS the flag marches are being conducted in towns and cities in all districts. Anticipating a disturbance of peace, a large contingent of the paramilitary force was deployed outside Amritpal Singh's native village, Jallupur Khaira, in Amritsar district.
A special team of the police, comprising personnel from seven districts, had followed the separatist leader's convoy while he was on his way to Jalandhar's Shahkot tehsil on Saturday.
They zeroed in on his vehicle two to three times but Amritpal Singh managed to escape. Section 144 has been imposed in many districts of the state. The police have also increased security in the state.
In addition, all vehicles are being checked at the Punjab-Haryana border. Amritpal's father, Tarsem Singh told the media the police should have arrested him before he left the house.
"We don't have any information about his whereabouts. They carried out a search at our residence for 3-4 hours but did not find anything illegal." He called the police action "unjustified" and said his son was weaning the youth off drugs.
"Why were the police not acting against criminals and those involved in drugs," he asked. Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Kuldeep Singh Chahal said Amritpal's six gunmen were nabbed.
"A manhunt for Amritpal Singh is on and we are hopeful that he will be arrested soon. A total of 78 people have been arrested so far and further searches and raids are underway," he added.
"During the statewide operation, nine weapons, including one .315 bore rifle, seven rifles of 12 bore, one revolver and 373 live cartridges of different caliber have been recovered so far," the police said in a statement on Twitter.