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Ludhiana tense as curfew continues

india Updated: Dec 06, 2009 12:39 IST

IANS
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Ludhiana, Punjab's largest city and a major industrial hub, continued to remain tense Sunday morning as curfew continued in most parts of the city following two days of violence Friday and Saturday in different parts.

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

One person was killed and over 15 injured Saturday after police fired on Sikh protestors 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 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 organizations 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 has been called off at the insistence of local authorities.

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 protestors 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 on Saturday evening were received from Jalandhar and Phagwara towns also. This caused traffic jams in both cities, about 55 km and 40 km from here respectively.

Sikh organizations have called for a Punjab bandh Monday (Dec 7).