Politics gained ground amid protests in Punjab over the desecration of the Sikh holy book as the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party on Wednesday demanded chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s scalp for “a complete law and order breakdown”.
Punjab continued to simmer over incidents of defiling of the Guru Granth Sahib with Sikh activists blocking key roads at many places and paramilitary forces taking out flag marches in sensitive areas.
Leaders of Sikh organisations said the protests would continue till October 25, the day marked for the “bhog” or ritual memorial service for those killed in police firing in Fardikot.
Union minister and Akali leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal blamed a “foreign hand” behind the turmoil.
Her father-in-law and chief minister Badal said some forces, both from within and outside the country, were trying to disrupt the state’s hard-earned peace. He exhorted the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance to work zealously to thwart any attempt to disturb harmony.
The opposition Congress sought the chief minister’s resignation, accusing the coalition government of failing to control the situation.
State Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa said the senior Badal as well his son, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal, had failed in their task of maintaining peace and demanded a probe by a sitting judge into the series of incidents of sacrilege.
The AAP, which will be contesting its first assembly election outside of Delhi in Punjab in 2017, demanded setting up of a Supreme Court-supervised special investigative tribunal to investigate acts of violence and asked the government to pay Rs 1 crore each to the families of those who died in police firing.
“The way that the police opened fire on innocent people who were protesting peacefully is highly objectionable,” the party said.