Khalistani leader Amritpal Singh, who is on the run from the Punjab Police, has been declared a fugitive, officials have said.
A massive operation has been launched to catch Amritpal Singh who, sources say, was last seen speeding away on a motorcycle last evening in Jalandhar.
Police have arrested 78 members of his outfit ‘Waris Punjab De,’ while several others have been detained for questioning, officials said.
“Six to seven gunmen of Amritpal Singh are among those arrested by police,” said Kuldeep Singh Chahal, Jalandhar Police Commissioner.
Amritpal Singh’s close aide Daljeet Singh Kalsi, who handles the Khalistani leader’s finance, has also been arrested from Haryana’s Gurgaon.
A special team of the state police, comprising personnel from seven districts, had followed the Khalistani leader’s convoy while he was on his way to Jalandhar’s Shahkot tehsil yesterday.
The radical Sikh preacher, however, managed to escape their dragnet on a motorcycle.
Authorities stepped up security at several places and suspended internet and SMS services in the state after his aides shared some videos on social media claiming that policemen were chasing them, and urged his supporters to gather at Shahkot.
Heavy security arrangement has been made outside Amritpal Singh’s village, Jallupur Khaira, in Amritsar as well. Police have detained his father and are questioning him.
Amritpal Singh leads “Waris Punjab De”, a radical organisation started by actor and activist Deep Sidhu, who died in a road accident in February last year.
Officials said Amritpal Singh has been maintaining close links with Pakistani intelligence agency ISI and terrorist groups based in foreign countries.
The radical Sikh preacher, who is often seen escorted by armed supporters, had been openly making statements about declaring secession from India and forming Khalistan.