Two land mafia members allegedly attacked local senior Congress leader Raman Bahl here on Tuesday, apparently for supporting the protest by owners of residential plots grabbed by the land mafia.
The incident took place at Post Office Chowk where the traffic police were present but they allegedly did not come to Bahl's rescue.
Eyewitnesses said the assailants came in a Bolero and parked it on Jail Road a few yards away from the spot, and after injuring Bahl, they left the spot in the vehicle that headed towards Guru Nanak Park.
Bahl was returning home from the disputed land at Gopal Nagar on a motorcycle, it being a narrow lane, with driver Tarsem Lal after meeting inquiry officer Shaukat Mohammad Parry. When Bahl reached Post Office Chowk, he was allegedly attacked by brothers Sukhdev Singh and Bikramjit Singh, residents of Goht Khurd village, while their accomplices stood aside. The two allegedly dragged Bahl from the pillion of the motorcycle on to the ground and started beating him up. Bahl suffered injuries on his arm, leg and chest.
Bahl alleged that local MLA and chief parliamentary secretary Gurbachan Singh Babbehali was behind the attack. Bahl alleged that the accused enjoyed the support of Babbehali and that was why the administration and the police were silent over the alleged grabbing of over 30 residential plots of people by the land mafia.
Barring the SAD, the local units of all political parties, including the BJP, had been supporting the protest by the plot owners, who had been camping on their plots round the clock, since May 2. Members of the land mafia had allegedly filled about 2-acre 'chhappar' (water body), in which the plots of the protesters existed, with earth and had started raising a boundary wall around it. Following this the owners of the plots began a stir to save their plots.
SSP Gurpreet Singh Toor said a case had been registered against the two men. He said he had formed four police parties that had been dispatched to the possible hideouts of the accused to nab them.
Cong leaders condemn attack
Meanwhile, Congress leader and Batala MLA Ashwani Sekhri arrived here and joined the protesters who blocked traffic at MC Office Chowk on GT Road. Sekhri said if politicians like Bahl were not safe, one could well imagine the law and order situation in the state.
State Congress general secretary Fateh Jang Singh Bajwa said if the police did not arrest the attackers by evening, the Congress would observe a bandh in Gurdaspur on Wednesday.
Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa also condemned the attack. Bajwa demanded that a criminal case be registered against Babbehali and his men and they be arrested immediately.
Congress deputy leader in Lok Sabha Capt Amarinder Singh demanded immediate arrest of the culprits, failing which, he said, Congressmen would come on to the streets and he would personally lead the protests.