Hours after radical preacher and Khalistan sympathiser Amritpal Singh was arrested by Punjab police, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said he was in touch with senior officials throughout Saturday night about the operation and asserted that those who try to disturb peace will face action as per law.
In a video message on Sunday, Mann also thanked the people of Punjab for their cooperation and said he does not want the youth to be misled by people with vested interests who run their shops by driving a campaign against the country.
Punjab's land is fertile and anything can grow here, but "seeds of hatred will never grow nor will these be allowed to grow", the chief minister emphasised.
Mann said that he wants the youth of Punjab to hold degrees in their hands, appointment letters for occupying high posts and medals in top sporting events.
He said people had given the responsibility to the Aam Aadmi Party, which entrusted him with the duty, as the chief minister, to protect the life and property of the people.
"For that, we may have to take any action or take tough measures… but not against any innocent," he said, adding the law is taking its course.
Facing flak over the last month for the failure to arrest Amritpal, the chief minister stressed he did not want any bloodshed during the operation.
He said after he received information on Saturday night, “I did not sleep the whole night and I was in regular touch with senior officials over phone after every 15 minutes, half an hour to get information.” "I wanted that entire thing (operation to arrest Amritpal) should be done in a peaceful manner," he added.
Referring to the police crackdown on March 18 against Amritpal and his aides belonging to 'Waris Punjab De' (WPD) outfit, Mann said in an attempt to arrest the radical preacher on that day, "maybe, bullets could have been fired. But we did not want any bloodshed”.
Amritpal, charged under the stringent National Security Act, was arrested in Rode village of Punjab's Moga district on Sunday morning after police personnel surrounded him, leaving him with no way to escape. He was taken to Dibrugarh in Assam where nine of his associates are presently lodged at Dibrugarh Central Jail.
Security in and around the jail premises has been beefed up since March 19, when four members of the 'Waris Punjab De' (WPD).
In the video message, Mann said, “Today Amritpal Singh has been arrested. Those who will try to disturb peace and harmony and break the law of the country will face action as per law. We will not trouble any innocent. We do not do vendetta politics.
The arrest came more than a month after the state police launched the crackdown against him following the storming of the Ajnala police station by his supporters to secure the release of an arrested associate.
Recalling the February 23 Ajnala incident in which Amritpal and his supporters brought the Palki Sahib of Guru Granth Sahib, Mann said he had given strict instructions to the Director General of Police that utmost restraint has to be used and the 'maryada' (respect) of Guru Granth Sahib has to be preserved.
He said some police personnel sustained injuries in that incident, adding for "the holy Guru Granth Sahib, we can give any sacrifice”.
He appreciated the "utmost restraint" shown by police incident while dealing with the situation.
Mann said that sometime back, an attempt to disturb law and order and brotherhood came to the notice in Punjab. “Immediately, action was taken on March 18,” said Mann as he referred to the police crackdown.
“Some persons who play into the hands of country's enemies and some anti-social elements were nabbed,” he said.
Amritpal Singh, who used to run an organisation that used to inspire youths to take up the gun or indulge in anti-social acts has also been arrested, he said.
“I want to thank the 3.5 crore people of Punjab that during the last 30-35 when this (crackdown) operation was going on, they maintained brotherhood and no untoward incident was reported,” he said.
Peace, brotherhood and harmony are very strong in the state, he stressed.
Mann reiterated that Punjabis have made maximum sacrifices in the country's freedom struggle and brave Punjabis continue to safeguard the country's frontiers.
A few days ago, five of the four soldiers who died in the Poonch attack belonged to Punjab, he said.
“Punjab has always led the country - be it the country's freedom struggle or green revolution and Punjab will continue to lead. I want that the state should emerge at the top in various developmental parameters and then no one can stop our country from becoming number one in the world," he said.
Mann said that on Sunday he spoke to deputy commissioners and senior superintendents of police and people are carrying on with their normal routine. There is no report of any untoward incident, he said.
“I want to assure you that Punjab will continue to make progress, like it has been doing during the past year," said Mann.
Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.