M A I N   N E W S

Curfew in Jalandhar as mob goes on rampage
Amarjit Thind & Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 24
Curfew was clamped in entire city after followers of Dera Sachkhand and various Dalit bodies today blocked traffic on the national highway here, damaged three buses and torched a vehicle soon after news regarding firing on Sant Niranjan Dass, the Dera head, in Vienna, Austria spread.

The Trigger

At least 11 persons were injured, nine of them seriously when two groups of Sikh worshippers clashed with knives and handgun at a gurdwara in Vienna on Sunday. Among the injured were Sant Niranjan Dass and Ramanand, chief and deputy chief of the Guru Ravi Das Sabha Gurdwara, respectively. All assailants were overpowered by the Vienna police. There was an old rivalry between the two groups, say sources. Eyewitnesses said the fight erupted after a dispute over the sermon.

The step has been taken to ensure public safety, said deputy commissioner Ajeet Singh Pannu, adding that the curfew would remain enforced till the situation turns normal.

As word of the attack spread, protesters started gathering at Bootan Mandi, the nerve centre of the Dalit community. Soon, youngsters started pelting vehicles with stones. The protest then spread and there were reports of

atleast 20 vehicles being torched at Prithvi planet, which was completely ransacked by the mob. The protesters, who were wielding swords, laid siege to the vital vehicular arteries of the city --- Nakodar Chowk, Garha road, and Rama Mandi --- by burning tyres and barricading the roads with motorbikes and other vehicles.

Protesters especially targeted well-established business houses belonging to affluent families in areas of their influence. Power stations were also pelted with stones, as a result the electricity supply was snapped to various parts of the city.

Till the filing of the report, there were long queues of stranded vehicles on Jalandhar-Chandigarh, Jalandhar- Kapurthala, Jalandhar-Ferozepure, Jalandhar-Amritsar national highways, causing great inconvenience to thousands of commuters.

The mob also blocked vehicular traffic in Phagwara for nearly an hour on National Highway No 1 on the overbridge near Sugar Mill crossing.

When contacted the DC and SSP said security has been beefed up at sensitive points to check any untoward incident.

Tension gripped Ludhiana as well after followers of a particular sect staged a dharna and blocked traffic at Jalandhar bypass late in the evening. Serpentine queues of vehicles were witnessed in the area even as the entire NH-1 from Jalandhar bypass to Phillaur toll plaza witnessed massive traffic jams after the clashes in Jalandhar.



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