Monday, February 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

7 Cong workers hurt in attack
Bandh in Mehta Chowk
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Chowk Mehta, February 3
Seven Congress workers were injured when followers of the Damdami Taksal (Bhinderanwale) allegedly attacked the house of a former sarpanch with lethal weapons here today.

The trouble started when certain Akali workers tore the buntings of the Congress party. However, Baba Satnam Singh claimed that the attack was in retaliation to the Congress workers roughing up Bhai Sarup Singh of the Damdami Taksal. He alleged that Manmeet Singh (19), a student of the Damdami Taksal sustained serious injuries in the attack and was rushed to the hospital.

Congress workers led by Mr Jasbir Singh Dimpa, a Congress candidate from Beas, blocked traffic for more than four hours in the Mehta Chowk area. The dharna was lifted after the lodging of an FIR against the alleged accused and the transfer of the SHO. According to Mr Makhan Singh, SP, Majitha, the SHO, Mr Jarnail Singh, had been transferred to Police Lines for dereliction of duty. Mr Santok Singh, Assistant Sub Inspector, has been given the charge of SHO. Shopkeepers of Mehta Chowk downed their shutters after the clash.

Mr Kashmir Singh alias Kala, a former sarpanch of Mehta, alleged that more than 400 followers of the Damdami Taksal led by Bhai Satnam Singh, Bhai Didar Singh, Bhai Nirwair Singh, Bhai Gajjan Singh and Bhai Satbir Singh attacked them with swords and lethal weapons. However, Bhai Satnam Singh and Bhai Didar Singh claimed that they had gone there to defuse the situation. They admitted that students of the taksal had indulged in violence due to the 'humiliation' meted out to one of the followers of the taksal.

Among those who sustained injuries in the clash included Mr Mohinder Singh (55), Mr Swarn Singh (60), Mr Pritpal Singh, Mr Simran Singh, Mr Satnam Singh, Mr Kewal Singh and Mr Jasbir Singh.

It may be mentioned here that Baba Thakur Singh, acting Jathedar of the Damdami Taksal is away to Mumbai these days.

Mr Makhan Singh, SP (Detective) told TNS that the police would not spare the accused. However, sources in the police said the alleged culprits were unlikely to be arrested for obvious reasons.

Congress candidate Jasbir Singh Dimpa alleged that the attack was carried out at the behest of the Shiromani Akali Dal. In a fax message to the Chief Election Commission, Mr Dimpa who is also General Secretary of the Indian Youth Congress demanded the deployment of paramilitary forces in Beas which was 'highly sensitive'.

Mr Dimpa also alleged that the Punjab police could not ensure free and fair election as it did not want to arrest the culprits.

The police sources said Mr Gurmail Singh, DSP, Baba Bakala, had been deputed as investigation officer who would complete the probe at the earliest.

Mr Bittu Shah, Mr Gurmej Singh and Mr Parmjit Singh, sarpanch, supporters of Mr Dimpa alleged that had the SHO acted in time the attack would have been averted. They claimed that they had given the information about the heightened tension to the SHO well in time but he failed to act promptly.

Baba Satnam Singh, however, refuted the charge that the violence was poll related. He claimed that the Damdami Taksal never supported or opposed any political party during the elections. "We always remain neutral", he said. Even after the lifting of protest dharna the situation is tense but under control. The police has registered a case.Back

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