Under criticism for the use of excessive force on Sikh protesters at Behbal Kalan in this district, police did not reportedly have the permission to open fire that killed two men in the crowd.
Police claim they fired in the air and only in self-defence when the protesters refused to clear the road, surrounded them, attacked them with sharp-edged weapons and sticks, and burnt all their vehicles. The protesters, however, claim otherwise.
“The police first used tear gas against the peaceful protesters on the Behbal Kalan link road but since the wind direction was opposite, it did not work. Then they gave us a count to five and started kicking the protesters, including women. Within seconds, they also opened fire. We tried to run away but two men were killed,” said Dr Gurpreet Singh from Behbal Kalan, adding that senior police officers had been present.
“The people who returned to retrieve the bodies were also shot at. Six, including my brother, Angrej Singh, were injured. Shot in the arm, he is admitted to GGS Medical College in Faridkot. One Beant Singh from Niamiwala, who was shot in the thigh, is under treatment in Ludhiana,” said Dr Gurpreet Singh. “The police torched two tractor-trailers and four motorcycles, besides damaging many more vehicles. We want a judicial inquiry into the incident and compensation for damage to our vehicles,” he added.
The protesters claimed they had been carrying swords and wooden sticks but no firearms. Faridkot senior superintendent of police (SSP) Sukhminder Singh Mann disconnected the telephone call and was unavailable for comments thereafter.
Sources said the police had permission to only disperse the crowd, not to fire into it. “At the most, they could have resorted to a cane charge. Opening fire without warning and permission is condemnable,” the source added.