A day after a clash between Dera Sacha Sauda followers and Sikh radicals left over 20 people injured at Dhudike village, the situation continued to be tense on Wednesday as police feared agitation by members from both groups who were reaching the village from the nearby areas.
To instill confidence among the fear-stricken residents of Dhudike and keep the situation under control, heavy police force was deployed at all entry and exit points of the village, but several members of radical Sikh families fled homes fearing police arrest for Tuesday's clash.
The village was put under the tight security of 1,079 cops, led by eight SPs and DSP, 11 station house officers, 91 sub-inspectors and assistant sub-inspectors besides 969 head constables and constables of Punjab Armed Force (PAP) to avoid any untoward incident.
"While riot police and reserve battalions from neighbouring Muktsar, Bathinda and Ferozepur districts, training centres at Jalandhar, Phillaur and Jahan Khelan were deployed in large numbers in the village, more force will be requisitioned if need be," said Kamaljit Singh Dhillon, senior superintendent of police, Moga.
Villagers fear that after arrest they would be implicated in attempt of murder case as over 60 accused had been unidentified in the FIR lodged by the dera followers.
However, the SSP said the police were examining the video footage of the incident to identify all the accused. The arrests will be made after the police identify the culprits, he added.
Besides the fleeing radical Sikhs, the dera followers are also apprehensive. Police force had been deployed around their houses, claimed the authorities.
While the dera followers on Wednesday gave an ultimatum to the police to arrest all accused within 12 hours or else they would start state-level agitation against police inaction, some radical Sikh leaders demanded registration of a counter case against the dera followers also as the latter were also involved in stone-pelting and in counter-attack.
Moga SSP Kamaljeet Singh Dhillon told HT late Wednesday evening that the station house officer (SHO) of Ajitwal police station, Gurpiar Singh, had been transferred to the Moga police lines for poor handling of the situation during the clash at Dhudike. "Gurwinder Singh Bhullar, SHO of Smalsar police station, will be appointed SHO of Ajitwal police station," he added.
SAD (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann, who reached Moga to express support with the radical Sikhs of Dhudike village, said the police should register counter-cases against the dera followers. "The police are targeting people selectively in the case and making scapegoats out of those who are opposing Narendra Modi's December 21 rally at Killi Chahal village of Moga," he alleged.
Jagtar Singh Dhaliwal, a senior Akali leader and member of zila parishad, and Jasdeep Singh, sarpanch of Dhudike, said they were implicated in a case for no fault. "We went to the spot to pacify the both sides when they were about to clash," claimed Jasdeep Singh.
More dera followers in surrounding villages
In view of highly volatile situation at Dudhike, the police have increased vigil and presence in the adjoining villages. In Dhudike village, the number of dera followers is comparatively less as compared to adjoining villages of Madoke, Chur Chak, Ajitwal, Buttar and Moga town.
Students stay away
The presence of police in large numbers to ensure law and order notwithstanding, very few students turned up in six colleges and four schools at Dhudike village on Wednesday. Besides those from Dhudike, students from nearby villages too remained away from educational institutions.