At least 20 workers of the Youth Akali Dal (YAD) and Congress were injured when they clashed over “chitta’ Ravana, an allusion to the synthetic drug menace in Punjab, at the Greater Ludhiana Area Development Authority (GLADA) ground on the Chandigarh road here on Monday night. Over 15 vehicles were also damaged in the clash, police said.
The Congress had reportedly prepared white effigy of the demon King Ravana as a symbolic protest against sale of white narcotic substance, colloquially called “chitta”, allegedly under the patronage of certain Akali and BJP leaders.
According to reports, more than 100 YAD workers reached the GLADA ground at 11.30pm on Monday where Congress workers, led by MP Ravneet Singh Bittu district Congress chief Gurpreet Gogi, were guarding the effigy.
YAD leaders, led by Malwa zone chief Tarsem Singh Bhinder, allegedly attacked Congress workers leaving Gogi injured, who was rushed to Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH).
“It was a display of hooliganism by Akali workers. Police remained a mute spectator when Akalis were beating up Congress workers,” alleged Bittu.
Congress leaders alleged that they staged a dharna outside the police commissioner’s residence after police officials refused to register their complaint. The protest continued till the wee hours of Tuesday.
Refuting allegations, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Ludhiana chief Madan Lal Bagga said: “Congress workers started beating up our men when they had gone there following reports that pictures of senior SAD leaders were being used on the effigy. Akali leaders also alleged that Bhinder was held hostage for 45 minutes.
Punjab Congress general secretary Amarjit Singh Tikka said besides damaging the effigies, the Akali workers broke the sound system and tore the tent that were installed at the venue.
Six Congress leaders, including Gurpreet Gogi, Umesh Sharma, Parvinder Lapran, Narinder Sharma, Guriqbal Honey and Gurdeep Pappu, have been booked on the statement of Bhinder under Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 323 (causing hurt), 365 (abduction), 506 (criminal intimidation), 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon) and 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). A cross FIR has also been registered on Gogi’s statement against YAD leaders Bhinder, Baljinder Khalsa and Sukhdev Singh.
Ludhiana police commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh said statements Congress and Akali leaders have been recorded and investigation was on.
Protesting against the alleged attack, Congress workers burnt cut-outs of Akali leaders, including CM Parkash Singh Badal, deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, cabinet ministers Bikram Singh Majithia, Tota Singh, Sarwan Singh Phillaur, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Adaish Pratap Kairon, Virsa Singh Valtoha, Sucha Singh Langah and Sikander Singh Maluka at Cheema Chowk on Tuesday.