One person died and 15 were injured when police opened fire and lobbed tear gas shells on Sikh protesters who tried to disrupt the satsang (religious discourse) of a sect leader in Ludhiana on Saturday.
The police, however, claimed they had fired in the air.
The group was protesting against Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan leader Ashutosh Maharaj.
This was the second day of violence in the city after migrant labourers, alleging police inaction after a group of migrants was allegedly robbed, burned vehicles and stopped road and rail traffic on Friday. The Bihar government has sent a fact-finding team to Punjab to look into the incident.
The administration has imposed curfew in 70 per cent of Ludhiana, crippling business in Punjab’s industrial hub.
The police stopped protesters at Samrala Chowk, about 1 km from the satsang venue on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh Road. About 100,000 followers of Ashutosh Maharaj had reportedly gathered there.
The protesters accused Ashutosh Maharaj of making statements against their religion.
The police opened fire when a group of protesters, allegedly brandishing swords and firearms, broke off the cordon and pelted vehicles with stones.
A protester, Darshan Singh, died in firing at Samrala Chowk.
“The police used tear gas shells to stop protesters at barricades at Dholewal Chowk, but since that didn’t work, the personnel opened fire in the air,” said SS Chauhan, DIG, Ludhiana Range.
Sansthan spokesman Swami Vishwanand said, “Some anti-national elements had disturbed peace in the city.” The sansthan denies making anti-Sikh statements.