It was a day of massive protests for the third day running in Malerkotla, after police rounded-up six people and took them in for questioning, on Wednesday, in connection with the killing of 12-year-old Vidhu Jain, on Monday. The situation remained tense and volatile, with protesters demanding immediate release of the detained.
The Malerkotla-Ludhiana road and Malerkotla-Khanna road was blocked.
"Police can ensure the protestors that no innocent person will be targeted. We appeal to the public to cooperate with us," said SSP Mandeep Singh Sidhu. His appeal had little effect, however, as in the evening agitators blocked the Ludhiana-Jakhal rail track. Ludhiana-Hisar train number 54606 was immediately cancelled, with passengers directed to de-board the train at Kup railway station near Malerkotla.
Protesters reportedly forced people to down shutters and enforced the bandh. There were reports of tyre-burning and massive sloganeering from across the city.
Sangrur DC Indu Malhotra appealed to the public not to believe the rumours circulating around the city.
"Precautionary measures have been taken to ensure safety of people and public property. However, the accused involved in the case will not be spared," the DC said.
"To generate evidence, the police have been interrogating some people. Five teams have been formed to crack the case," the SSP said. He added that no decision had yet been taken on the issue of imposing a curfew in the area.
"There is no need for a curfew. When we feel such a step is recommended, it will be suggested to the appropriate authorities."
Meanwhile, security personnel from the best units across the state have been rushed to the town to maintain peace and order.
PCR vehicles from Ludhiana, Nawanshahr and SAS Nagar have also been called in. Malerkotla MLA Neesara Khatoon and her husband DGP Mohammad Izar Alam, the chairman of Punjab Wakf board, did not make any appeal to the public throughout the day.
Road route jammed
Protests were continuing till late at night. All roads leading to Malerkotla had been blocked and there were reports that some of the agitators were sitting on railways tracks leading to Malerkotla. Late night, however, the rail tracks were vacated by the police.