Saturday, June 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Talhan, Jalandhar remain tense
More incidents of violence, arson; probe ordered
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Dalit youths set vehicles on fire
A truck set on fire in the Buta Mandi area of Jalandhar on Friday. 

Police personnel in front of Shahid Baba Nihal Singh’s “samadh”
Police personnel near Shahid Baba Nihal Singh’s "samadh" in Talhan village on Friday. 
— photos S.S. Chopra

Talhan (Jalandhar), June 6
Curfew continued in Talhan village, the scene of caste clash between Dalits and Jats yesterday, while the CRPF was deployed in the tense Buta Mandi area of Jalandhar city today after a series of violent incidents in which four persons, including three cops, suffered injuries and two trucks were set ablaze, three buses damaged and a liquor shop looted by mobs in various parts of the city, according to UNI.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today ordered a magisterial probe into the violent incidents in Talhan.

He also constituted a high-power committee of ministers comprising of Mr Lal Singh, Chowdhary Jagjit Singh, Mr Avtar Henry, Chowdhary Santokh Singh and Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee to assess the situation.

The committee announced a relief of Rs 5 lakh for the family of Vijay Kumar Kala, a resident of Buta Mandi who was allegedly killed in police firing, Rs 25,000 for each of the seriously injured persons and Rs 10,000 for any person who had received minor injuries during yesterday’s clashes.

One person was killed and 21 were injured in the clashes at Buta Mandi and Talhan village.

Capt Amarinder Singh was scheduled to visit the local Devi Talab Temple in the morning, but his trip was cancelled.

Chaudhary Jagjit Singh alleged that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was responsible for the violence and deterioration of the situation, while Mr Lal Singh alleged that the fact that the situation turned volatile all of a sudden was a proof of ‘sabotage’.

Meanwhile, the police was forced to resort to cane charge and teargas shelling for about 15 minutes in the Buta Mandi area this morning after groups of Dalits allegedly threw petrol bombs and stones on police officials deployed there. The agitating youths also torched a private truck while it was passing through the area in the wee hours. The driver and the cleaner of the truck were, however, escaped the wrath of the armed youths who took to the streets after getting information that some Dalit youths had been allegedly injured in a Jat-Dalit clash at this village yesterday evening.

More than 10 passengers of a Himachal Road Transport Corporation bus were injured when a group of about 40 youngsters attacked it near Rama Mandi on the outskirts of Jalandhar. The passengers had to flee to save their lives from the hooligans.

Another Hoshiarpur-based private bus dashed against against a cluster of shops near Kaki pind on the Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur road after its driver Kulmit Singh lost control over the vehicle as it was attacked by a group of 10 or 12 youths, who pelted stones on the bus. The driver was admitted in a hospital in a serious condition while about 10 other passengers, who had received minor injuries, were discharged after first aid. A big mishap was averted as the shops into which the private bus had rammed were closed due to the bandh observed by shopkeepers of the area. The areas which remained closed today included Rama Mandi, Nakodar Road, Abadpura, Buta Mandi, Bhargo Camp, Siddhartha Nagar, Lajpat Nagar and Avtaar Nagar.

Irked over yesterday’s developments, Dalits resorted to a traffic jam on the Jalandhar-Amritsar G.T. Road near Maqsudan at about 11 a.m. The traffic, however, was restored after half an hour. Similarly, traffic came to a standstill as protesters blocked the Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur road for about one and a half hours near Rama Mandi in the afternoon. About 150 members of the Ambedkar Mool Niwasi Sena blocked the Jalandhar-Ludhiana highway near Phagwara’s St. Joseph Convent School for about one and a half hours to lodge their protest against the Talhan incident. The dharna was lifted after persuation by the Phagwara SDM, Mr Pritam Singh, and the SP, Mr Harmanbir Singh. The sena has given a “Phagwara Bandh” call for Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) today alleged that the situation had deteriorated due to the inability of the administration, including the police, in handling the issue in a proper manner. The BSP has threatened to hold a “dhikkar and ninda” rally at Chandigarh on June 10 in case the state government failed to suspend and book police officials, who ordered the firing in the Buta Mandi area late last night allegedly without any provocation.

Demanding a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the family of the deceased and Rs 2 lakh for each of those injured in the incident Mr Narinder Kashyap, in charge of the BSP’s Punjab Affairs, who was accompanied by the BSP state president, Mr Avtaar Singh Karimpuri, and district president, Mr Pawan Tinu, alleged that the situation went out of control due to the failure of the administration in handling the matter properly. They alleged that the sequence of events depicted that the police did not resort to firing at Talhan village despite armed group clashes but it fired at “innocent” persons at Buta Mandi, which meant that there was a “deep-rooted conspiracy to kill Dalits”.

Speaking to the TNS over phone from New York, Mr Satnam Kainth, the Bahujan Samaj Morcha chief, alleged that the incident was an outcome of an “administrative” failure.

Meanwhile, the five-member committee of ministers visited the local Civil Hospital where the injured are admitted along with Mr M.S. Bhullar, Director-General of Police, and Mr Bhagat Singh, Financial Commissioner, and talked to the injured persons.

Earlier, a deputation of Congress leaders, including Mr Tejinder Bittu, the District Congress chief, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, and the Mayor, Mr Surinder Mahey, met the committee.

The District Magistrate today indicated that the curfew in Talhan village was likely to be relaxed tomorrow. He has deputed Mr D.S. Multani, Additional Deputy Commissioner, for conducting a magisterial probe into the violence.

Both the Deputy Commissioner and the SSP remained inaccessible to mediapersons during the past about 36 hours.

Those injured in the clash at Talhan village are Ram Kishan (37), Bitta (19), Laddo (30), Amar Nath (59), Buta (20), Kala (21), Kashmir Singh (33), Vijay Kumar (33, Bhavanendra Kumar and Sukhdev Singh.

Those who were injured in the alleged police firing at Buta Mandi in Jalandhar City are Sudhir (42), Jiwan (38), Banarsi (35), Satnam (42), Puran (42), Des Raj (22), Balwinder (20), Lakshman Dass (52), and Vinod Kumar (19).


Rail traffic disrupted
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 6
Traffic on the Jalandhar-Amritsar rail section came to a standstill as about 500-600 strong group of agitated Dalit men and women forced the Amritsar-bound Amritsar-Delhi express train to stop near the Ram Nagar railway crossing here tonight.

Protesters, who threw stones at the train engine, caused damage to it as they climbed on it immediately after it came to a halt following a sit-in organised by a mob comprising Dalit men and women on the tracks near Gazi Gulla Mohalla. They were protesting against the incidents at Talhan village and last night’s police firing at Buta Mandi.

As the driver stopped the train after sensing trouble on the tracks, groups of youngsters pelted stones on the engine, resulting in damage to its panes and its headlight. Stunned by the sudden attack, the driver of the train pushed it back for about a kilometre. But the protesters, who were raising anti-police slogans, reached there and occupied the train. The traffic could not be restored on the Jalandhar-Amritsar section till 10.30 p.m.. Efforts were on by the administration to persuade the mob to lift the blockade. 


Dalits call for bandh
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 6
The Dalit Action Committee has given a call for Jalandhar bandh tomorrow in protest against the killing of a Dalit in police firing at Buta Mandi, here last night.

Mr Chanan Ram, president of the committee, said the state government had failed to defuse the tense situation, resulting in the Jat-Dalit clash at Talhan village yesterday. "The police firing on innocent people at Buta Mandi had virtually added fuel to fire as one Dalit Vijay Kumar was killed and 10 others were injured, which is highly deplorable," he said, adding that the committee had given a call for the bandh to register its protest against the complete failure of the district administration to amicably resolve the issue during the past five months.

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