Tuesday, June 10, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Armed mobs attack buses
Naveen Garewal and Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Punjab Police personnel patrol one of the affected residential areas of Phagwara on Monday
Punjab Police personnel patrol one of the affected residential areas of Phagwara on Monday. — Photo by Pardeep Tewari

Phagwara, June 9
It was hooliganism for four hours here this morning when armed Dalit youths brandished iron rods, lathis and baseball bats and pelted stones on vehicles, forcing shopkeepers and other establishments to put down their shutters amid rumours that the police had resorted to firing in this township.

A 300-strong mob turned violent and smashed panes of two buses — PB-11-C-9441, and PB-11-K-2982 of the PRTC — near the main bus stand around 11.30 a.m. along the Jalandhar-Ludhiana GT Road. Another bus (PB-12-A-8708) was attacked near Hargobindnagar locality by the mob resulting in injuries to the driver Swaran Singh. A private matador was also attacked by the mob on the GT Road. The police resorted to a mild lathi-charge to restore traffic on the GT Road.

While, Dalit youths, who were in different groups in different localities, openly brandished lathis, iron rods, pipes and bats, police officials accompanying them remained mute spectators to the show of horror. Residents remained indoors and spent the day fearing an attack during the one day bandh, the call for which was given by the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Unlike in the past, instead of moving around in a procession, the protesters divided themselves into groups of about 200. As these armed youths marched through different roads, lanes and bye-lanes, the shops downed their shutters and the residents bolted their doors fearing violence.

There was a dance of violence for about an hour in front of the bus stand where they resorted to stone pelting on buses plying on the Jalandhar-Ludhiana GT Road.

The situation turned ugly when the BSP workers started forcing the shopkeepers on the GT Road to down their shutters. This was opposed by police personnel deployed along the highway. In a subsequent development, tempers ran high and the BSP workers blocked the road and started pelting stones on the vehicular traffic.

The SDM, Phagwara, Mr Pritam Singh, and the Executive Magistrate-cum-Tehsildar, Mr Vijay Sharma, coaxed the leaders to remain peaceful. But when certain elements tried use force and others prepared to ransack some shops that refused to down their shutters, the police resorted to a mild lathi charge.

Later the SP of Phagwara, Mr Harminder Singh, and the DSP, Mr Daljit Singh had a one to one with BSP leaders like Mr Parvin Banga, Member, Zila Parishad, and Master Harbhajan Singh, District General Secretary, who agreed to hand over their memorandum to the SDM and vacate the highway. The crowds later marched towards Guru Ravi Dass Temple in Pritam Nagar of Green Park and subsequently dispersed.

A local party worker, Mr Jasbir Singh Saroya, said the actual party workers had no intention of turning violent, despite the fact that they were feeling aggrieved over the Talhan incident. “It was actually the mischievous elements that had infiltrated the crowds and damaged the Punjab Roadways buses and private cars”.

In the memorandum, the agitators demanded the registration of a case of murder against the police personnel that resorted to firing in Buta Mandi, Jalandhar, that led to the death of Vijay Kumar. The memorandum also seeks an early and acceptable solution to the Talhan controversy, a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the family of Vijay Kumar, besides other things.

Mr Vijay Sharma also told The Tribune that certain mischievous elements had penetrated the BSP cadres and were trying to exploit the situation for arson and loot, but the police personnel were deployed in such a manner that all such attempts were nipped in the bud. He said earlier in the day a group of people from the Naujawan Sabha in the Shivpuri locality of Phagwara had left after submitting a memorandum to the SDM saying that those forcing the bandh were not BSP cadres and would perpetuate violence for ulterior gains. These included people from several small lesser known organisations that had extended support to the BSP.

Doaba belt of Punjab has a large BSP following. Even the Phagwara Assembly seat is reserved and is currently held by Mr Joginder Singh Mann of the Congress. Phagwara, considered to be the mid-point of Punjab, was chosen by the BSP to mobilise workers on the eve of a state-wide bandh wherein the cadres will hold a dharna in Chandigarh on Tuesday.



Jalandhar admn revamped
DIG, SSP, SDM, ADC transferred
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 9
After five days of caste violence, the Punjab Government, in its endeavour to restore peace and tranquillity in trouble-torn Jalandhar, today ordered partial revamping of the civil and police administration as the Bahujan Samaj Party gave a call for a bandh at Phagwara tomorrow in “protest against the mishandling of the situation at Talhan and Buta Mandi”.

Both “Jats” and “Dalits” have been assailing the role of the district administration in general and the police in particular during the current spate of violence. They had been accusing the district authorities of “mishandling the situation and allowing it to drift from bad to worse”.

As a sequel to the violence and rift among the two communities in pockets of Jalandhar, the agitation has been threatening to spread to other parts of the state as several incidents of arson and violence were witnessed in Phagwara during the day-long bandh today.

The revamping was ordered after the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, reviewed the law and order situation with senior officers, including the Home Secretary, the Director-General of Police, the Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Order) and the Additional Director-General of Police (Intelligence), this afternoon.

The Jalandhar Range Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Mr Rohit Chaudhary; SSP Virender Kumar, SP (City II) Rakesh Kaushal, and SP (Operations) Darshanjit Singh Dhindsa have been asked to report to the Director-General of Police, Mr M.S. Bhullar, here.

Since the Zonal Inspector-General of Police, Mr S.K. Sharma, is away on leave, Mr J.P. Birdi, Inspector-General of Police, Punjab Armed Police, Jalandhar, has been given additional charge as the Inspector-General of Police (Zonal).

Mr Dinkar Gupta, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Counter-Intelligence, will replace Mr Rohit Chaudhary while Mr Harpreet Singh Sidhu has been posted as the new SSP at Jalandhar.

The new police machinery in Jalandhar will have Mr Pawan Kumar Uppal as SP City-II and Mr Gurmeet Singh as SP (Operations).

Mr Narinderpal Singh will replace Mr Harpreet Singh Sidhu as Senior Superintendent of Police, Ludhiana. The position vacated by Mr Narinderpal Singh at Amritsar will be taken by Mr Kultar Singh, Commandant, 13th Battalion, PAP.

Both Mr Balwinder Singh, Additional Deputy Commissioner, and Mr Gurlovleen Singh, SDM, Jalandhar, have also been shifted. Ms Babbita will be the new SDM (I) of Jalandhar while Mr Parveen Kumar has been posted Additional Deputy Commissioner.

Mr Gurlovleen Singh goes to Shahkot as SDM while Mr Balwinder Singh has been posted as Administrator, Improvement Trust, Jalandhar.

Residents of the violence-torn areas have been accusing the district’s political leadership also of total apathy. They maintained that not even a single politician has visited them to enquire about their well being. “So much so that on April 30, the entire Dalit Action Committee was called to the Chief Minister’s residence in Chandigarh at 9 a.m. for a meeting. We reached there in time for the meeting. While the Chief Minister went away quietly shortly after 1 p.m., most of us came back disappointed around 3.30 p.m.,” said Mr Vijay Sampla, Vice-President of the Punjab BJP, holding that “after that experience, we never expected him to visit us or the injured after the violence erupted on June 5”.

Even the local MLAs — Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, a Cabinet Minister; and Ms Gurkanwal Kaur — were conspicuous by their absence. Though Mr Kaypee is a member of the five-member high-powered committee, he failed to visit the violence-hit areas even once. Residents of the affected areas said that even their MP did not visit them.



Talhan residents to be disarmed
J.S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, June 9
Life in most parts of this violence-hit city is slowly returning to normal with no fresh incidents of violence reported today. The district administration set up a round-the-clock control room for providing latest information about the prevailing situation in the city to mediapersons and the general public.

A meeting of the peace committee was held to discuss means to maintain communal harmony in the violence-hit areas.

Curfew was relaxed for two hours in the affected areas, except Talhan village, from 8 am to 10 am. The Deputy Commissioner, however, maintained that there was no possibility of giving relaxation in curfew at Talhan village.

Meanwhile, the DC has deputed two executive magistrates to disarm residents of Talhan village. It was announced by the administration that all residents of the affected village should surrender their licensed and unlicensed weapons for which a receipt would be given by the executive magistrate on the spot.

Asked, whether the administration would permit holding of an age-old religious mela at Gurdwara Nihal Singh at Talhan village on June 15, the Deputy Commissioner said the issue would be decided later according to the situation prevailing at that time.


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
123 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |