Sikh diaspora boils with anger over India depriving 30 million of internet in Punjab

Amritsar, March 23 (KMS): A manhunt launched by police against pro-Khalistan leader in the Indian state of Sikh-majority Punjab that resulted in mass arrests, deployment of paramilitary forces and an internet blackout affecting millions of people has sparked anger among the Sikh diaspora.

The pursuit of Amritpal Singh was triggered after Indian police accused the 30-year-old and his supporters of creating discord. Police said Singh has been on the run since Saturday when officers tried to block his motorcade and arrest him.

Sukhchain Singh Gill, the inspector general of police for Punjab, said on Wednesday that police have so far arrested 154 of Singh’s supporters and seized 10 guns and several rounds of ammunition.

Singh made national headlines in February when his supporters attacked a police station in Punjab demanding the release of a jailed aide.

Singh heads a group called Waris Punjab De (Heirs of Punjab), which advocates for the formation of Khalistan – a sovereign state for Sikhs in Indian Punjab.

As police intensified the search for Singh, Sikhs living overseas have been protesting against the arbitrary arrests of more than 100 of his followers, and the internet shutdown that led to the loss of communication with their family members in Punjab.

Overall, some 30 million people across the region have been cut off from mobile internet and text messaging services.

“We have serious concerns over the unprecedented attempt by the Indian government and police in Punjab to trample upon the democratic rights of Sikhs,” Amar Singh of Australia-based Sikh charity organisation, Turbans 4 Australia, told the media.

In the Australian capital, Canberra, more than 150 Sikhs on Monday, reportedly carried out a peaceful protest over the mass arrests and internet blackout.
A section of Sikhs in the UK on Sunday protested in front of the Indian High Commission in London, where one protester pulled down the Indian national flag.

On the same day, another protest in the US was carried out at the Indian consulate in San Francisco, where some Sikhs raised pro-Khalistan slogans, and installed two so-called Khalistani flags at the premises.

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