At least 19 persons, including nine cops, were injured as an angry mob — protesting alleged sacrilege of a ‘bir’ (copy) of Guru Granth Sahib — clashed with police at Buttar Kalan village in Moga district on Tuesday.
The protesters, who had blocked the traffic on the Moga-Barnala road, claimed that police tried to move them from the spot forcibly. As scuffle broke out, police had to fire some shots in air to disperse the mob. There were also reports of lathicharge on protesters.
Moga senior superintendent of police (SSP) Charanjit Singh said protesters hurled stones at police resulting in injuries to many cops, including superintendent of police (headquarters) HS Pannu and assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Sukhmandar Singh. The ASI was later referred to the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital in Ludhiana after suffering a rib fracture.
Police, however, denied that they used force to disperse the mob. Four police vehicles, including three buses and a Tata Scorpio car, were also vandalised by protesters.
Later, the protesters lifted the blockade after being persuaded by senior district officials. Moga deputy commissioner Parminder Singh Gill and SSP Charanjit Singh spoke to the panchayat and village elders and succeeded in persuading the villagers to end the protest.
“The situation is now under control,” Gill said.
Protests were also held at Goniana and Rampura Phul against the alleged desecration incident. Two persons were arrested in Bathinda while they were trying to stage a protest on Bathinda-Mansa road.
More than 100 pages of the scripture had been found scattered in a street leading to the gurdwara at Bargari village, 15km from Kotkapura, in Faridkot district on Monday. These pages had been allegedly torn from a ‘bir’ that was stolen from Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village, about 5 km from Bargari village, in June.
Former head priest of Takht Shri Damdama Sahib Balwant Singh Nandgarh suspects involvement of Dera Sacha Sauda in the desecration incident.
He alleged that state government wasn’t acting against the culprits due to political reasons.
Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had yesterday directed state police chief Sumedh Singh Saini to take prompt action against those behind the act. He had also urged the people to maintain peace and communal harmony.
Sukhbir had said the act of sacrilege was sponsored by certain forces who wanted to sow the seeds of communal tension in Punjab.
Punish guilty: Sirsa dera
Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda on Tuesday condemned the sacrilege of a ‘bir’ of Guru Granth Sahib. In a statement, dera spokesman Pawan Insaan denied involvement of dera followers in the blasphemous act. “The authorities should conduct a probe and those responsible for the act should be brought to the book,” he said.