Congress activists protesting against the alleged nexus of revenue and public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia with the drug mafia were lathicharged on Wednesday, leaving Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) general secretary Lalli Majithia injured.
The PPCC general secretary sustained an injury on his nose and had to be taken to hospital.
His supporters accused the police of deliberately targeting their leader and some of them even entered into a scuffle with the policemen.
Sensing anger, police officials on the spot forced Lalli into an ambulance and took him to a private hospital for treatment. The PPCC leader, whose turban got dislodged during the lathicharge, also received a blow on the head.
The protesters who burnt an effigy of the minister and made an attempt to break the police cordon also faced canecharge.
They were heading towards the residence of Majithia in Green Avenue, about 200 metres from Ranjit Avenue.
It was the second consecutive day of protests in Majha against Majithia following the disclosures made by notorious drug kingpin Jagdish Singh Bhola, a dismissed DSP of the Punjab police. Bhola, arrested by the Patiala police in the synthetic drug racket, had claimed that Majithia along with two other Punjab ministers, was part of his drug racket.
The protest held at the district shopping complex in Ranjit Avenue was led by Lalli who has contested and lost two assembly elections against Majithia. The others who participated were Amritsar (rural) District Congress Committee (DCC) chief Gurjeet Singh Aujla, Amritsar urban unit head Rajeev Bhagat, PPCC vice-president and former minister Sardool Singh Bundala, PPCC general secretary Harminder Singh Gill and PPCC secretary Joginderpal Dhingra and Youth Congress leader Vikas Soni.
While Aujla accompanied Lalli to the hospital, Bundala, Dhingra, Sandeep Gorsi and Gill courted arrest. The Congress leaders claimed that the gunman of a senior police officer hit Lalli on the head and nose with a lathi.
Congress activists, most of them from Majitha assembly segment, gathered at the district shopping complex to raise slogans against Majithia. They reiterated their demand for a CBI inquiry in the drug racket.
Senior PPCC leader Jasbir Singh Dimpa condemned the lathicharge, alleging that Lalli was "deliberately targeted by the policemen on orders from top".
"The police clearly outnumbered the protesters. So what was the point of using force?" he said.
He demanded that the cop responsible for attacking Lalli should be suspended immediately and a case be registered against him.
Police commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh denied any lathicharge.
"There was no lathicharge against the protesters. The Congress workers attacked the police. Lalli Majithia did not receive any injuries. He was taken to hospital as he is a heart patient," the commissioner of police said.
The disgruntled Congress leaders who have been critical of the PPCC list stayed away from the anti-Majithia protests for the second successive day.
Senior leaders from the Congress' Amritsar district unit, including Jugal Kishore Sharma and Harpartap Singh Ajnala, were nowhere seen during the protests.
Former deputy speaker Darbari Lal and Attari halqa in-charge Tarsem Singh DC, who quit the PPCC on Tuesday, and former Tarn Taran DCC chief Dharamveer Agnihotri also preferred to stay away.
PPCC general secretary Harminder Singh Gill had come from Patti to take part in the protest.
Those who joined protests
Amritsar (rural) DCC chief Gurjeet Singh Aujla, Amritsar urban unit head Rajeev Bhagat, PPCC vice-president and former minister Sardool Singh Bundala, PPCC general secretary Harminder Singh Gill and PPCC secretary Joginderpal Dhingra and Youth Congress leader Vikas Soni
Disgruntled leaders stay away
* Senior leaders from the Congress' Amritsar district unit Jugal Kishore Sharma and Harpartap Singh Ajnala stayed away from the protests
* Former deputy speaker Darbari Lal and Attari halqa in-charge Tarsem Singh DC, who quit the PPCC on Tuesday, did not participate
* Former Tarn Taran DCC chief Dharamveer Agnihotri also did not join the protests