Chased by angry Sikh protesters attacking their vehicles with swords and sticks, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders had to flee State Gurdwara barefoot on Friday.
Bholath legislator Bibi Jagir Kaur; former minister Upinderjit Kaur; SAD district president Jarnail Singh Wahid; SGPC members Gurpreet Kaur and Sarwan Singh Kullar; and district planning committee chairman Sarabjit Singh Makkar slipped out of the backdoor but many other leaders did not get time to even put their shoes back on. The windowpanes of the cars of Kullar and SAD district general secretary Harvinder Kaur were smashed.
Amid high security at the gurdwara, more than 100 SAD workers and leaders had gathered there in the morning to attend the ‘bhog’ (concluding ceremony) of ‘akhand paath’ organised to pray for peace and harmony in the state after the desecration of Guru Granth Sahib at several places recently. Police were deployed outside since Thursday when Sikh protesters had not let Akali leaders in to start the prayers.
As 100-odd armed men protesting 200 meters from the gurdwara stormed in raising pro-Khalistan slogans and searching for Akali leaders, more than 500 cops failed to hold them back. Denied five minutes to speak with the Akali leaders, these protesters led by Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) district president Narinder Singh Khusropur had first threatened to run through the police cordon. They seized their opportunity when the ceremony was about over and the participants had started to leave.
Most Akali leaders were saved by a few seconds. The presence of senior cops such as superintendent of police (investigation) Jasvir Singh, deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Daljit Singh, DSP (investigation) HS Dhillon, and DSP special branch Sarabjit Rai made little difference. The Akali leaders looked embarrassed to flee and unhappy over security failure.
After the ruckus, the Kapurthala police arrested 14 people, including ‘gatka’ player Gurpreet Singh Bunty, on the charges of attacking the Akali leaders. Kapurthala senior superintendent of police (SSP) Rajinder Singh said the FIR (first-information report) name 25 of the 40 accused. On the complaint of local SAD leader Amarjit Singh Dhupayi, a case under Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 295-A (malicious act to outrage religious feelings), 147 (punishment for rioting) and 148 (armed riot) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was registered.
Attackers brought in shoes: Akali leaders
Condemning the attack on them inside a gurdwara, Akali leaders Bibi Jagir Kaur, Upinderjit Kaur, Jarnail Singh Wahid, Gurpreet Kaur, Sarwan Singh Kullar and Sarabjit Singh Makkar demanded strict action against the culprits. “The protesters stormed in wearing shoes,” an SAD leader claimed at the press conference, later.