Even as efforts are underway to arrest the chief of suspected pro-Khalistan outfit 'Waris Punjab De', Amritpal Singh and his aides, Punjab Police on Saturday appealed to the citizens to "maintain peace and harmony" in the State and stay away from "false news".
"Avoid rumours on social media. We request all citizens to maintain peace and harmony. Punjab Police is working to maintain law and order. Citizens are requested not to panic and not spread fake news or hate speech," Punjab Police tweeted.
Mobile Internet services also have been suspended in several districts of Punjab until 12 noon on Sunday, as the State police launched an operation to arrest the Khalistan sympathiser.
"All mobile internet services, all SMS services (except banking & mobile recharge) and all dongle services provided on mobile networks, except the voice call, 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," Punjab's department of Home Affairs and Justice said.
The police action came almost over three weeks after Amritpal's supporters clashed with police personnel at the Ajnala police station on the outskirts of Amritsar last month, demanding the release of one of Amritpal's close aides, Lovepreet Toofan.
Welcoming the move by Punjab Police, State's former Deputy Chief Minister and Congress leader Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa also urged the Punjab people to maintain peace in the State.
"I welcome the action taken by the Punjab Police. My request to all Punjabis is to maintain peace and not trust rumours," he said in a tweet.
On February 23, thousands of his supporters, stormed the Ajnala police station, flashing swords and high-calibre firearms, threatening the police with dire consequences if they did not release Lovepreet Toofan, who was arrested for allegedly assaulting and abducting a man.
The supporters, brandishing swords and guns broke through police barricades erected outside the Ajnala police station.
The police later said "in the light of the evidence presented", it has been decided that Lovepreet Singh Toofan will be discharged.
Lovepreet Singh was released from jail on February 24 following orders of a court in Ajnala on an application by the police.
Reacting to the incident, chief minister Bhagwant Mann said that these "1000 people" don't represent Punjab, and alleged that they are "funded by Pakistan" to disrupt peace in the state. (ANI)