Khalistan leader Amritpal Singh, who is on the run from Punjab police, has been declared a fugitive, officials said.
A massive operation has been launched to catch Amritpal Singh who, sources say, was last seen fleeing on a motorbike last night in Jalandhar.
Police arrested 78 members of his “Waris Punjab De” group, while several others were detained for questioning, officials said.
“Six to seven gunmen from Amritpal Singh are among those arrested by the police,” said Jalandhar Police Commissioner Kuldeep Singh Chahal.
Amritpal Singh’s close associate, Daljeet Singh Kalsi, who manages the Khalistan leader’s finances, was also arrested in Gurgaon, Haryana.
A special state police team, comprising personnel from seven districts, yesterday tracked the Khalistan leader’s convoy as it made its way to tehsil Shahkot in Jalandhar.
The radical Sikh preacher, however, managed to escape their net on a motorbike.
Authorities tightened security at several locations and suspended internet and SMS services in the state after his aides shared videos on social media claiming police were chasing them and urged his followers to gather in Shahkot.
Heightened security measures were also taken outside Amritpal Singh’s village, Jallupur Khaira, in Amritsar. The police have arrested his father and are questioning him.
Amritpal Singh leads ‘Waris Punjab De’, a radical organization founded by actor and activist Deep Sidhu, who died in a road accident in February last year.
Officials said Amritpal Singh had close ties to Pakistani intelligence agency ISI and terrorist groups based in foreign countries.
The radical Sikh preacher, who is often seen escorted by armed supporters, had openly made statements about India’s declaration of secession and the formation of Khalistan.