A day after the BJP gave a 24-hour ultimatum to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) to act in the Tarn Taran attack case, the Punjab government on Friday worked out a formula to pacify the saffron party.
The BJP was agitated after Tuesday's clash in Tarn Taran when pistol-wielding Akali workers had assaulted Raja Joshi, younger brother of local bodies minister Anil Joshi.
But the BJP has decided to sever ties with the SAD in Tarn Taran and to contest the civic body polls alone. The BJP men from all 23 wards there filed their papers on the last day on Friday.
Joshi and his brother, a former councillor in the Tarn Taran municipal council, belong to the BJP, a coalition partner in the state government along with the SAD.
With the government failing to take action in the case, the BJP had called an emergency meeting of its core group on Thursday, which went on for more than two hours and had heated discussions, raising questions on the working of the alliance.
To pacify the BJP, the Punjab police booked all Akalis who had attacked Raja in a case of attempt to murder under Section 307 of the IPC. Two of the attackers - former councillor Baljit Singh Gill and Jagwant Singh were arrested, and Tarn Taran (city) SHO Nirmal Singh sent to the police lines.
The pistol from which the shots were fired was also recovered. Earlier, a milder case was registered under Sections 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC and provisions of the Arms Act. Apart from a stricter case and the arrest of the accused, the BJP had demanded the dismissal of the SHO for failing to act and the transfer of Tarn Taran SSP Manmohan Sharma.
"Things are moving in the right direction. We are satisfied as the police have taken stern action against those who assaulted our man," said BJP state president Kamal Sharma. "I am hopeful that the other conditions put forth by the party core group would be considered by the state police accordingly," Sharma said.
Sources said chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and director general of police Sumedh Singh Saini had assured Sharma of taking further action on the recommendations of the report to be submitted by the special investigation team on February 17.
"There is a lot of bitterness. Our workers don't want to talk to SAD workers, so we decided to contest on all 23 wards of the municipal council ourselves," Sharma told HT, hoping that such incident would not be repeated. Raja is contesting from Ward No 14.
Arrest all culprits: Sampla
Union minister of state for social justice and empowerment Vijay Sampla, who was part of the BJP team visiting Tarn Taran, said the arrest of two accused did not satisfy him as he demanded the arrest of all involved.
"Our party high command, including national president Amit Shah, is seized of the matter. I have come here on his directions," Sampla told the media after meeting the party workers.
Sampla said Raja had a narrow escape.
Sharma and BJP national secretary Tarun Chugh also accompanied Sampla and met zonal IG Ishwar Chander, Amritsar police commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh, Tarn Taran deputy commissioner BS Dhaliwal, SSP Manmohan Sharma and Amritsar (rural) SSP Jasdeep Singh.
War of words continues
The local SAD leadership was in no mood to wilt under pressure from the BJP and reiterated the demand for the expulsion of Joshi "for the sake of Hindu-Sikh unity and the SAD-BJP alliance".
SAD chief parliamentary secretary Harmeet Singh Sandhu, whom Joshi had held responsible for the clash, questioned Joshi's claims of his father's martyrdom, saying the latter was a victim of inter-gang rivalry common those days.
"Everyone is aware of Sandhu's background. It is sad that such people have been elected by people," Joshi hit back, offering to face an inquiry into Sandhu's allegations.