The Congress has sought answers on the deteriorating law and order situation in the Majha belt from the SAD-BJP government, especially from deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who holds the Home portfolio.
Addressing a workers' rally here on Sunday, Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC) vice-president and in-charge of the Majha area, OP Soni sought to know from Badal the truth behind the recent spate in violence in rural areas which was being attributed to a gang of criminals known as the 'kala kachha gang'.
Soni, in his speech directed at the deputy CM, specified that the gang, if it did exist, got its name from the black-coloured long underwears they wore. Rumours were rife in both the city and the villages that the gang members before venturing out applied oil to their bodies so that they could slip out of the grasp of the person who caught them while committing a robbery, he added.
"We all want to know whether such gangs do exist or these are mere rumours. There is a grave sense of insecurity among the people and many of them are spending sleepless nights," he said while pointing out that rumours of such gangs came to the fore after the Deputy CM along with the DGP announced that night policing would be stepped up in the state.
Soni pointed out that rumours were also doing the rounds that these gangs comprised policemen and their task was to terrorise people. The motive was to suppress the common man so that he did not dare oppose the ruling SAD-BJP alliance, he alleged.
"If these gangs are indeed cops in "kala kachhas", then the Deputy CM is squarely to blame. If these are just rumours, then why are the police hesitant to come up with the truth," added Soni while pointing out that so far he had not come across anyone who claimed to have seen members of such gangs.
He said the public seemed to have lost faith in the police. This was the reason 'theekri pehras' were being organised by village and mohalla-level defence committees, he pointed out.
The PPCC vice-president, who is also a local MLA, listed out the attack on a police party at Kotla Tarkana village in Amritsar district on Saturday in which a DSP and several other policemen suffered injuries.
He also referred to Sunday's incident at Bal Khurd village where cops were attacked when they went to rescue some people who were apprehended by the villagers who mistook them to be members of a 'kala kachha' gang.
He also referred to another incident in the Fatehgarh Churian area of Gurdaspur district where a youth was allegedly murdered and the residents attributed the killing to members of a 'kala kachha' gang.
Amritsar (rural) District Congress Committee chief Harpartap Singh Ajnala also cited several incidents of individuals being attacked late in the night by members of village defence committees in rural areas. He said that innocent persons going to their homes late at night were being mistaken as criminals and robbers and members of the 'kala kachha' gang and were being attacked.
"Such incidents have put the security agencies on the backfoot and they no longer enjoy the trust of people. An inquiry should be initiated into all incidents of violence which have occurred in the last few days," demanded Ajnala.
PPCC member Gurjit Singh Aujala, Karamjit Singh Rintu and former city mayor Sunil Datti also addressed the Congress workers and lambasted the government for failing to check the deteriorating law and order situation.