A routine protest against the Punjab government outside Punjab Congress Bhawan here was provocation enough for Chandigarh Police to do something unprecedented. A police party headed by Sector-11 station house officer (SHO) Narinder Patiyal and comprising around 50 personnel in riot gear entered Congress Bhawan, searched it and allegedly beat up staff and two journalists.
The incident took place around 12.30 pm after the party workers led by Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Charanjit Channi and Inderjit Singh Zira, former minister and chairman of party’s Kisan and Khet Mazdoor cell, had burnt an effigy of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, accusing his government of harassing farmers on payment for wheat crop. By 12.50 pm, the protesters had been dispersed by police by using water cannons and Channi and Zira were arrested, along with 66 party workers, after stopping the protest march heading towards the chief minister’s residence.
The complaint filed by Capt Sandeep Singh Sandhu, in-charge of Punjab Congress Bhawan, and submitted to Punjab governor, UT administration and police, says, “Around 12.50 pm, SHO Patiyal entered the Congress Bhawan premises and started searching its rooms. The SHO did not say why he was conducting the search without any warrant. He behaved as if some hardened criminals were hiding on the premises. He openly abused and challenged the staff. Party office staffer Kamaldeep Saini and Sukhdev Singh, acting chairman of Indian National Trade Union Congress (Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee), were manhandled and journalists Kuldeep Singh Jaffalpur and Jai Singh Chibber of Spokesman newspaper were brutally beaten up by the SHO. Turbans of some Sikh workers were also flung. There are blood stains on the floor to attest the police action. Such high-handedness and brutal abuse of power by police is unprecedented and did not happen even during terrorism days in Punjab.”
The party has also submitted CCTV footage of police entering the Congress Bhawan along with the complaint. Citing the incident as an “insult” to a democratic institution and head office of a political party, the party has demanded that Patiyal and other policemen be booked for “trespass, assault, wrongful restraint and criminal intimidation”. It also demanded departmental proceedings and strict disciplinary action against him.
Channi said it is for the first time that the police had entered and searched the Congress office. “They manhandled the staff and beat up journalists. Earlier, they had cane-charged and used water cannons during a peaceful protest. Many farmers were injured and taken to the Sector-16 government hospital,” he claimed.
Zira, in his statement, claimed that Chandigarh SSP Sukhchain Singh Gill was working at the behest of the chief minister. “They did not stop us by barricading but started to cane-charge. We will meet the governor on Thursday and demand the SSP’s suspension,” Zira said.
68 protesters arrested
Chandigarh: As many as 68 protesters were arrested who were booked under Sections 107 and 151 of the CrPC at the Sector 11 police station. The police said an injured protester was taken to Government Multi-Specialty Hospital, Sector 16, where he was discharged later.
DSP (central) Satish Kumar said the protesters were arrested as a preventive measure as they were stopped from crossing barricades and their action forced the police to resort to using water cannon and cane-charge. He said all arrested Congress workers would be produced before the SDM.
Dismissing allegations against the SHO, Kumar said he had gone inside the office to check whether there were some injured workers there. However, SSP Sukhchain Singh Gill said they would look into the complaint once they received it. HTC