Several Cops Injured In Clash With Protesters Seeking Release Of Sikh Prisoners
Chandigarh: Around 30 cops were injured and several vehicles damaged as protesters seeking the release of Sikh prisoners countrywide clashed with them while trying to reach Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann’s official residence in neighbouring Chandigarh on Wednesday, officials said.
Police had put up barricades near the Chandigarh-Mohali border to prevent the protesters from moving towards Mr Mann’s residence. When the protesters tried to force their way through the barricades, the Chandigarh Police used water cannon to disperse them.
The protesters under the banner of the ‘Qaumi Insaaf Morcha’ then attacked the police personnel and damaged a water cannon vehicle, a “vajra” (riot control vehicle), two police jeeps, a fire-fighting vehicle and some other vehicles with swords and sticks, the officials said.They said around 25-30 personnel, including from the Rapid Action Force, sustained injuries in the attack.
Director General of Police of Chandigarh Praveer Ranjan said an FIR will be lodged against those involved in the incident.
The protesters wanted to go to the chief minister’s residence to press for their demands, including the release of Sikh prisoners who they claim are lodged in different prisons across the country despite having completed their sentences.
People from various parts of Punjab have been staging a protest at the YPS Chowk near the Chandigarh-Mohali border since January 7.
Later, more protesters carrying swords and sticks gathered at the site of the protest including some Nihangs who turned violent and thrashed some of the police personnel.
The policemen were chased by the protesters, one of whom was carrying a tear gas gun, apparently left behind by a policeman.
The protesters used a tractor to remove the barricades, police said.
DGP Ranjan said as section 144 of the CrPC was imposed in Chandigarh, police did not allow the protesters to hold any protest in the city.
Without any provocations from police, a group of protesters turned violent and tried to jump barricades, he said.
The official said several protesters, including Nihangs on horses, were carrying dangerous weapons, including swords, iron rods and sticks.
When police tried to stop them, they attacked the cops with swords, said the DGP.
Several cops even fell down and sustained serious injuries, he said, adding that they have been hospitalised.
“I think 25-30 jawans sustained serious injuries after they were attacked with dangerous weapons,” said the DGP.
Mr Ranjan said stones were hurled at cops. “We used minimum force to control them… We will take legal action in this regard,” he said.
The DGP also said that Punjab Police was informed beforehand that the protesters could indulge in such violent acts. “But unfortunately, it does not seem that they (protesters) were stopped (in Mohali side),” he said.
“This was a leaderless crowd,” he further said, holding the Qaumi Insaaf Morch responsible for the incident.
Replying to a question, the DGP said he was in touch with the Punjab Police, which has assured of action in the matter. “But what happened today, it took all of them by surprise. We tried to stop them at the border. How they reached here with these weapons is a matter to ponder,” he said.
The official said police were scanning video footage and collecting evidence to take legal action against those who indulged in the violent act.
Meanwhile, Qaumi Insaaf Morcha leader Gurcharan Singh said several people were injured after Chandigarh Police used the water cannon and resorted to cane charge against the protesters.
Mr Singh asked the use of force by police against peaceful protesters. He also accused the administration of trying to “fail” the morcha.
The protesters are seeking justice in the 2015 sacrilege and police-firing incidents in Faridkot.
For the last two days, they have been trying to go to Chandigarh but were detained by police.
Nihangs, members of several Sikh bodies and others are supporting the demands of the morcha.
The protesters have also been seeking the release of Sikh prisoners, including Balwant Singh Rajoana, a convict in former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh’s assassination.