After a day full of violent clashes and rioting scripted by migrant labourers on Friday, Ludhiana witnessed a fresh round of violence and arsoning claimed one life on Saturday morning after radical Sikhs spilled over the city streets to protest a religious congregation being organized by a Hindu organization Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS) whom the Sikhs accuse of indulging in acts of blasphemy.
The city youth, who is yet to be identified lost his life after he sustained bullet injuries during the police firing in Samrala chowk. The police opened fire when a group of Sikh activists broke off the cordon and sought to march towards the venue. Another youth , who too sustained injuries in his upper part of leg was rushed to Christian medical college
and hospital in critical condition.
Venting their anger on public transport, the Sikh activists broke off police cordons, pelted stone on vehicles hence provoking the cops to resort to firing that left two protestors injured. Determined to disrupt the DJJS function , the hardliners gathered at Pheruman Shaheeda grurudwara near Dholewal chowk early morning .
Following speeches by the Sikh leaders as the tempers ran high and activists were about to march towards the venue of Sansthan’s religious gathering, the cops took one of the leader Baba Jarnail Singh into “preventive custody”. Provoked by the detention of their leader, the activities challenged cops with swords and other weapons in their hands.
Fearing that any retaliation could further aggravate the situation, the cops brought back Jarnail Singh and appealed the protesting mob to maintain clam.
Later, having learnt that DJJS function had a “smooth start” and was on at the venue on Chandigarh road, the visibly charged activities suddenly got into action and broke off the cordons erected by police. With high pitch sloganeering and swords in their hands as the protestors started running towards the road leading to venue, the cops used tear gas to block their ways but in vain.
Unperturbed with the stiff resistance posed by guarding cops as a group of agitated hard liners reached Samrala chowk, one of the closest entry point to function venue, the police initially sought to stop them by firing in air but later had to resort to lathicharge and open firing.
Two activists sustained injuries during the melee and were immediately rushed to local civil hospital. Later one of the injured died at hospital, a police spokesperson said.
Since the day DJJS head Swami Ashutosh Maharaj announced himself as incarnation of God and allegedly asked its followers not to pay respect to the Guru Granth Sahib. Tension had been brewing in city since the day DJJS announced Swami Ashutosh’s visit to city. Having gathered on a common platform various radical outfits had joined hands to oppose the function and had warned the district administration of “ worst” in their bid to stop dera head from visiting city.
Before the religious congregation, the DJJS activists had proposed to take out a procession but were denied persimmon by district magistrate.
The ongoing protests, however had taken political colour with BJP leaders lobbying in favour of DJJS. On Friday evening local BJP MLA Harish Bedi and DJJS followers held a joint press conference at venue to announce that the function would take place as usual, notwithstanding high pitched protests by radicals. Stated that “some anti-national elements” were trying to disturb the function, the BJP MLA stated that they would not allow any kind of disruption or cancellation of function.