M A I N   N E W S

Curfew in Ludhiana after mob fury
n Irked by police inaction against robbers, migrants torch vehicles, block NH-I
n 100 hurt in police firing, lathi charge 
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 4
Curfew was clamped in five areas dominated by migrants in the city after they went on the rampage on the Ludhiana-Delhi National Highway-I. The mob torched several vehicles, blocked the highway, stopped trains and held passengers and residents to ransom to protest against police inaction against members of a “bikers’ gang” (robbers on bikes).

The trouble arose last night when two migrants were robbed at knifepoint by the bikers’ gang. The duo went to Dhandari police picket but their complaint was not registered. The protesters said snatching incidents had been going on for the past couple of days but the police had failed to do anything about it. The police, however, said there had been no complaints.

Furious with police inaction, the migrants returned to the police station in the middle of the night with a mob. The police says when it rounded up a few of the migrants for creating a ruckus, they resorted to violence in the morning, demanding the release of the detained persons. The police used tear gas, lathi charge and firing in the air to disperse the rampaging mob.

In the violence that continued till today afternoon, two migrants sustained bullet injuries, while nearly 100 of them were injured in the lathi charge. More than a dozen cops, including three SHOs, were also injured after the mob pelted them with stones.

As many as nine trucks, including an Army truck, seven shanties on NH-1, and several cars were torched by the angry mob. The mob threw stones at PRTC and private buses and even school buses. Nobody, however, sustained major injuries.

Arson and violence was the order of the day as the police seemed helpless. As protesters squatted on the railway track and hurled stones at anyone who went near them, cops found it difficult to control them. Almost all trains were running behind schedule throughout the day.

Cops were seen running for shelter when teargas shells thrown by them at the agitators were caught by the latter and thrown back. When police action did not work, the administration imposed curfew in Focal Point, Sahnewal, areas falling under division number 6 and 7 and Shimlapuri on the Deputy Commissioner’s orders. Curfew was not relaxed till the filing of this report.

IG-Zonal Sanjeev Kalra said the situation was under control. 





Police not to blame, says DGP
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 4
A visibly shaken Punjab Police chief P S Gill today denied that his force had failed to react adequately to a complaint by a migrant labourer which flared up into a major law and order situation in Ludhiana.

The DGP, while talking to newspersons here, however, said the situation had now been brought under control. He said all steps were being taken to ensure law and order in Ludhiana. He disclosed that the Centre had been asked to depute two battalions of paramilitary forces in the affected areas and a flag march would be taken out to instil confidence in the people.

Gill said the police had deputed eight companies in the affected areas and an officer of the level of Additional Director General of Police was stationed in Ludhiana to monitor the situation.

The Punjab Police chief refused to react to allegations that migrant labourers had been feeling that their complaints were going unheeded since the last two months. He said in yesterday’s incident, the complaint of the migrant labourer could not be attended to properly because the force was busy preparing for a public function (involving religious preacher Ashutosh Maharaj). He also did not respond to allegations that the violence let loose on migrant labourers today had the tacit approval of the police force.

Meanwhile Harcharan Bains, Media Adviser to the Chief Minister, while reacting to the situation, said, “a misunderstanding seems to have occurred which we will investigate”. While urging the people of the state to “feel secure”, Bains said “we were taken slightly unaware but the state’s response has been quick.” When asked if police failure if any would be inquired into, Bains said: “We are looking into everything”. 



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