Security has been enhanced across the state of Punjab as searches continue to nab pro-Khalistan outfit 'Waris Punjab De' chief Amritpal Singh, who has been declared a "fugitive", hours after a massive operation by the police.
Police personnel have also been deployed outside Amritpal Singh's residence in Jallupur Khera village in Amritsar, as the police efforts are underway to nab him.
Meanwhile, the Khalistani sympathiser outfit chief is currently on the run, as per the police.
Earlier on Saturday late evening, Jalandhar Commissioner Kuldeep Singh Chahal confirmed that the radical leader had been declared a "fugitive".
In an exclusive interview with ANI, the Jalandhar Commissioner said, "Waris Punjab De' chief Amritpal Singh has been declared a fugitive. His two cars were seized and gunmen nabbed. We also checked if the firearms of his security escorts had been procured legally. A case has been registered. Punjab Police have launched a manhunt for Amritpal Singh 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".
Amritpal Singh's father, however, claimed that Punjab Police conducted searches at his residence in Amritsar but did not find "anything illegal".
Tarsem Singh, Amritpal's father, on late Saturday night said 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. Police should have arrested him before he left home," said Tarsem Singh in an exclusive interview with ANI on Saturday.
Earlier on Saturday, Punjab Police launched a massive state-wide Cordon And Search Operation (CASO) in the state against elements of Waris Punjab De (WPD) against whom several criminal cases stand registered.
During the operation, a total of 78 persons have been arrested so far, while, several others have been detained for questioning.
Sharing more details, the official spokesperson of Punjab Police said, "On Saturday afternoon, several activists of WPD were intercepted by the Police at the Shahkot-Malsian Road in Jalandhar district and seven persons were arrested on the spot. Several others including Amritpal Singh are on the run and a massive manhunt has been launched to nab them."
"During the statewide operation, nine weapons, including one .315 bore rifle, seven rifles of 12 bore, one revolver and 373 live cartridges of different calibres have been recovered so far," said an officer.
The spokesperson informed that WPD elements are involved in four criminal cases relating to spreading disharmony among classes, attempt to murder, attacking police persons and creating obstructions in the lawful discharge of duties of public servants.
"Case FIR No. 39 dated 24-02-2023 stands registered against WPD elements for the attack on Ajnala Police Station," he added.
He said that all persons involved in criminal offences shall be dealt with in accordance with the law and all persons wanted by the police should offer themselves to the process of law. Their constitutional rights of legal defence shall be protected, he added.
Police requested all the citizens not to pay heed to fake news and rumours.
"Situation in the state is completely stable. All persons indulging in mischievous activities for disturbing peace and harmony in the state shall be dealt with strictly," the police said.
Earlier in the day, mobile Internet services were also suspended in several districts of Punjab until 12 noon on Sunday.
The police action came almost over three weeks after Amritpal's supporters clashed with uniformed 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.
On February 23, thousands of his supporters stormed the Ajnala police station, flashing swords and high-calibre firearms and 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 had said that these "1,000 people" don't represent Punjab, and alleged that they are "funded by Pakistan" to disrupt peace in the state.