Mar 21, 2023
Internet Cut Off for Fourth Day as Indian State Hunts Fugitive
(Bloomberg) -- Police in India’s border state of Punjab continued their hunt for a fugitive Sikh separatist leader for a fourth day — with mobile internet services for the region’s more than 27 million people cut off to prevent his supporters from gathering.
The self-styled preacher, Amritpal Singh, has called on his followers to revive a banned secessionist movement that fought to create an independent state called Khalistan for followers of the Sikh faith in Punjab in the 1980s and early 1990s.
A state-wide search for Singh was launched over the weekend, but the 30-year-old has so far evaded arrest. On Tuesday, Punjab’s security personnel continued patrolling several districts, said Swarandeep Singh, a senior police official in the city of Jalandhar. Mobile internet and messaging services have been suspended to prevent the leader’s supporters from inciting violence.
The separatist movement was largely quelled by the mid-90s. However, it continues to find some support within India and among the Sikh diaspora, especially in the UK, Australia and Canada.
Singh’s supporters Sunday vandalized the Indian High Commission in London, pulling down the national flag and briefly flying the orange and blue flags of the Khalistan movement.
On Monday, a similar attack took place at the Indian consulate in San Francisco. India’s Ministry of External Affairs has lodged formal comments with both governments and asked for better protection of its overseas properties.
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