The Twitter account of BBC Punjabi news has been withheld in India amid the manhunt for Khalistani sympathiser Amritpal Singh.

A message displayed on the Twitter handle said the account has been taken down “in response to a legal demand”. However, the details of the the legal demand are not known.

A crackdown by security forces on Singh and his Sikh organisation Waris Punjab De started on March 18, days after he and his supporters stormed a police station in Amritsar on February 23. Singh and his supporters were protesting against the arrest of one of the preacher’s aides for alleged assault and attempted kidnapping.

Last week, the Twitter accounts of several Punjab-based journalists and prominent members of the Sikh community had been withheld in India amid the police crackdown. Among the accounts taken down were those of Canadian politician Jagmeet Singh, Canada-based poet Rupi Kaur and voluntary organisation United Sikhs which has its headquarters in the country.

Singh has garnered a significant following through his speeches that often focus on Punjab’s youth and religion. He has also given several interviews supporting demands for Khalistan, an independent state for Sikhs.

Singh, who is absconding, is believed to be hiding in Nepal. In view of this, Nepal on Monday put the preacher on its surveillance list after India requested it not to allow him to flee to a third country, reported PTI.

Meanwhile, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpeet Singh on Monday gave a 24-hour ultimatum to the Punjab government to release all Sikh youths who have been held in the police crackdown against Singh and his aides, according to PTI.

The jathedar of Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikhs, has also criticised the state government for invoking the National Security Act against some of the accused persons and demanded that those who have been sent to a jail in Assam be brought back.

On Sunday, the police said that 197 persons of the 353 persons who were detained have been released.