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Posted at: Oct 15, 2015, 8:38 PM; last updated: Oct 15, 2015, 8:38 PM (IST)‘BIR’ DESECRATION

2 dead in Kotkapura police firing

Over 50, including IGP, hurt in clashes | 10 vehicles torched

The trigger

  • On June 1, a Guru Granth Sahib ‘bir’ is stolen from a gurdwara near Bargari in Kotkapura
  • Some Sikh bodies give call for Faridkot shutdown over police failure to find the stolen ‘bir’ and arrest culprits
  • On Sept 24, handwritten bills slamming certain radical Sikh leaders for failure to force cops to recover ‘bir’ are pasted near the gurdwara
  • On Oct 12, around 110 pages of the stolen ‘bir’ are found strewn near the gurdwara

CM orders judicial probe

  • CM Parkash Singh Badal has ordered a probe by an HC judge into the sacrilege. Police chief Sumedh Singh Saini has been asked to constitute an SIT to track down the culprits. The CM has appealed for calm

Rs 1 cr for info on culprits

  • Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal has announced Rs 1 cr reward for information (call DIG Ranbir Khattra at 9417213380) leading to the arrest of those who desecrated the holy book

Rule of anarchy: Cong

  • The CM has lost control over things and the state is drifting towards anarchy. Trying to assert authority by use of brute force and killing unarmed protesters won’t restore govt’s image —Capt Amarinder Singh, Amritsar MP

Admn lapse: Akal Takht

  • It’s an administrative lapse... Use of lathis on Sikh activists by police has hurt the sentiments of the community. The police have even rounded up innocents —Gurbachan Singh, Akal Takht Jathedar

Balwant Garg

Tribune News Service

Faridkot, October 14

Two Sikh activists were killed and over 50 others injured in clashes with the police following the desecration of Guru Granth Sahib ‘bir’ at Kotkapura early this morning. 

Edit: Need for calm

Among those injured was Inspector General of Police (Bathinda range) Jatinder Jain. The police resorted to canecharge, used water cannons and fired into the air to disperse more than 3,000 people who had assembled at an intersection in the heart of Kotkapura since Tuesday afternoon to protest the desecration. The action followed two hours of failed talks between the protesters and senior police officers that left more than 45 persons, including 24 policemen, injured. 

Another clash took place at Behbal Kalan village on the Kotkapura-Bathinda road when protesters allegedly hurled stones at the police. Gurjit Singh (27) of Sarawan village and Kala Singh (54) of Niamiwala Khurd village in Faridkot were killed in police firing. Some protesters and policemen suffered injuries in the clash.

The injured were taken to the Faridkot medical college and Kotkapura civil hospital. One of the injured, Beant Singh, was admitted to the DMC, Ludhiana, with critical injuries. More than 10 vehicles, including five belonging to the police, were damaged in the clashes.

The police claimed they acted in self-defence and used minimal force as they came under attack while trying to clear the protest sites. The protesters were armed with sharp weapons, sticks and stones, said Faridkot Senior Superintendent of Police SS Mann. Several police vehicles were damaged by protesters, said Deputy Inspector General  (Ferozepur range) Amar Singh Chahal. While the police confirmed they had arrested 34 protesters, reports said more than 100 persons, including Sikh leaders Panthpreet Singh and Ranjit Singh Dhadrian Wale, were rounded up.

Baljit Singh Daduwal, a Sikh leader, who was at the Kotkapura gurdwara when the crackdown began, alleged the police used brute force on peaceful protesters.

After the clashes, dharnas were organised at almost all roads leading to Kotkapura. A heavy contingent of police was deployed in Kotkapura to prevent further protests at the intersection. As a precautionary measure, police force from nine districts was deployed in the district.

In the evening, the police faced difficulty shifting the bodies to Faridkot medical college for post-mortem. The protesters were demanding the custody of the bodies.

While educational institutions in the area, including Kotkapura, Jaitu, Bajakhana and Bargari, were closed for the day, commercial establishments observed a shutdown in Kotkapura town.

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