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Exchange of fire near Khanna
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Malikpur (Khanna), May 17
In the first planned armed attack arising out of the Dera Sacha Sauda controversy, a mob of more than 50 persons attacked and fired shots at a branch of the dera at Malikpur village on the Khanna-Sanghol road, here, in the wee hours of today.

The assailants fled after a police contingent, posted for such exigency, returned fire. The both sides shot dozens of rounds, but nobody was reported injured in the incident. The accused allegedly broke a portrait of Baba Ram Rahim Singh.

Gautam Cheema, SSP, said he had deployed the force well in advance in and around the dera as a precautionary measure. “We have identified some of the assailants. The attackers had first gathered in small numbers in surrounding villages, where they were spotted by the people on thikri pehra,” he added. An FIR has been lodged. The police have beefed up the security around the deras in the area. The deployment of cops at sensitive places in the district has been increased.

The dera members, however, claimed the assailants were more than 100. They were armed with firearms, swords and sticks. Mohan Lal, a ‘Premi’ inside the dera at the time of the attack, said the accused surrounded the dera from all sides and fired several rounds.

Tension remained in the industrial township, after the incident, with heavy police force, including the anti-riot squad, deployed on the roads and sensitive areas. The situation became quite volatile in the afternoon when thousands of activists of various Sikh organisations took out protest rallies and submitted a memorandum in the office a sub divisional magistrate condemning the dera head for raking up a religious controversy.

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