Curfew on in Ludhiana, no incident today | india | Hindustan Times
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Curfew on in Ludhiana, no incident today

Sealed from the rest of the state by a heavy police presence, Ludhiana, Punjab's largest city and a major industrial hub, remained tense on Sunday as curfew continued in most parts of the city after two days of violence.

india Updated: Dec 06, 2009 20:16 IST

Sealed from the rest of the state by a heavy police presence, Ludhiana, Punjab's largest city and a major industrial hub, remained tense on Sunday as curfew continued in most parts of the city after two days of violence.

With radical Sikh organisations led by Damdami Taksal calling for a Ludhiana bandh or shutdown Sunday and continuing with their 'dharna' (sit-in protest) near Samrala crossing on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh highway, Punjab Police and para-military force contingents remained on high alert to maintain peace.

Being a Sunday, most people preferred to remain at home since the curfew imposed on Saturday evening continued.

One person was killed and over 15 injured Saturday after police fired on Sikh protesters who were proceeding to disrupt a religious and spiritual conference of controversial sect leader Ashutosh Maharaj who heads the Nurmahal-based (near Jalandhar) Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan.

The victim, Darshan Singh, 58, an auto-rickshaw driver and lone earning member of his family who was hit on the chest as the police fired Saturday to disperse Sikh protesteeors, was cremated in Ludhiana on Sunday.

"The situation is quite tense. The curfew continues but our dharna is on near Samrala Chowk," radical Sikh leader Kanwarpal Singh of the Dal Khalsa told IANS.

Radical Sikh organisations wanted the sect conference to be cancelled. Sikh leaders and the sect head have been at loggerheads for several years over his alleged comments on the Sikh religion and its gurus.

The second day of the conference scheduled Sunday was called off at the insistence of local authorities.

"We have requested all sections of people to maintain peace. Adequate security forces have been put on duty at sensitive points," Ludhiana district police chief S.S. Gill said.

Life in the city has been in turmoil in the last two days due to the violence. Hundreds of industrial units remained closed on both days fearing trouble.

While Saturday's violence saw a clash between Sikh protesters and the police, Friday saw migrants taking to the streets and setting 23 vehicles, including nine of the police and one army truck, on fire. They blocked the busy Ludhiana-New Delhi national highway no. 1 (NH-1) and disrupted railway traffic too.

Reports of protests Saturday evening were received from Jalandhar and Phagwara towns also. This caused traffic jams in both cities, about 55 km and 40 km from Ludhiana respectively.

Sikh organisations have called for a Punjab bandh Monday (Dec 7). The violence and shutdown in the last three days has adversely affected the city's industry.