Twitter blocks BBC’s Punjabi handle, restored hours later

BBC headquarters in London. [Photo: Wikimedia]

British broadcaster BBC News’ Punjabi language Twitter account was blocked on Tuesday as the state’s security forces enter the 10th day of the hunt for Khalistan leader and ‘Punjab Waris De’ chief Amritpal Singh. However, the suspension of the handle was revoked and the account was restored later.

BBC, or the British Broadcasting Corporation, has not yet commented on the block and Twitter has yet to publish details of the request that led to its action.

The move comes within days after Twitter handles several Punjab-based journalists and prominent members of the Sikh community were withheld in India amid the police crackdown.

As many as six YouTube channels promoting pro-Khalistan views were “blocked” a few days ago at the request of the Indian government. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry of India had said these channels, which were run from abroad and presenting content in Punjabi, were trying to create “crisis” in the Indian state.

Punjab Police has launched a massive operation to arrest Singh who has been on the run since 18 March. He allegedly managed to evade the police net and is absconding.

The crackdown on the outfit began weeks after Amritpal and his supporters, some of them brandshing swords and guns, broke through barricades and stormed the Ajnala police station on the outskirts of Amritsar (in Punjab) to secure release of an arrested associate.

The incident sparked fears over the possibility of the return of Khalistani militancy to Punjab that borders Pakistan.

On Saturday, a new CCTV footage emerged which purportedly showed Amritpal wearing a jacket and a trouser and speaking on a mobile phone. He was seen holding a bag with his face covered with a white cloth.

Amritpal’e key aide Papalpreet Singh was also seen in the footage that went viral last week.

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