The face-off between leaders and supporters of the Cong ress and the Bharatiya Janata Party over BJP minister Anil Joshi’s alleged involvement in the recent assault on a lawyer was limited to sloganeering, as the police stood between the two sides and prevented violence, near the local residence of the minister on Ring Road here on Tuesday.
Congress leaders and workers confronting the police during a protest near the house of local bodies minister Anil Joshi in Amritsar on Tuesday.
A surprise visitor was Joshi himself, who technically still faced arrest in three cases at the time, as he was given anticipatory bail by the district court only later. He even addressed his supporters.
The Congress was demanding the arrest of Joshi and “all those responsible for the murderous assault on advocate Vine e t Mahajan”, who is a Congress suppor ter and complainant in the cases for dual votes and other charges against the Punjab minister.
They were also demanding withdrawal of the allegedly fabricated case of attempt to murder registered against another advocate, Sandeep Gorsi, and party councillor Gurinder Rishi. Gorsi is also a complainant against Joshi in the cases.
Original plan of the Congress was to gherao Joshi’s Medical Enclave residence. On hearing the minister’s voice over a public address system, Congress leaders approached senior police officers and demanded that they arrest him.
But the cops chose to look the other way while pointing towards the bail application then being heard in court around 2km away.
The BJP had already declared its intentions to come out in defence of its minister and prevent the Congress from marching towards his residence. They gathered just a couple of metres aways from the residence and were much relieved when Joshi decided to join them.
The BJP workers raised slogans against the Congress, while the opposition party countered it with anti-Joshi slogans. The Congress leaders alleged that Joshi had let loose “a reign of terror” in the city and that he should be put behind bars.
On the other hand, Joshi chose to defend himself by saying, “Every crime that takes place in the city is being attributed to me by the two Congressbacked lawyers. No FIR has been re gistered a g ainst me; only complaints are pending in the court.”
At the end of his speech, he asked the BJP workers to lift the dharna and disperse as “being part of the state government, we must ensure a peaceful atmosphere in the city”.
While BJP workers dispersed, Congress leaders were rounded up by the cops when they insisted on moving towards the minister’s residence.
They offered themselves for arrest by sitting in the buses of the police. Among those who were rounded up were MLAs (members of legislative assembly) Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, OP Soni and Dr Raj Kumar Verka besides Sunil Datti, Jasbir Singh Dimpa, Karamjit Rintu and several others.
They were taken to the Civil Lines police station and later let off. No case was registered.