Patiala clashes: Punjab Police arrest Shiv Sena leader Harish Singla
Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) leader Harish Singla's arrest comes after Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann chaired a high-level meeting earlier today.
Punjab Police on Friday arrested Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) leader Harish Singla in connection with the clashes that broke out earlier today between the members of the group and pro-Khalistani activists in Patiala. The two parties threw stones at each other and even brandished swords, prompting the police to fire as many as 15 rounds of fire to bring the situation under control.
Singla's arrest comes after Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann chaired a high-level meeting hours before. At the meeting, Mann ordered an immediate enquiry into the incident and directed the police department that no person responsible for the violence should be spared, a statement by his office read.
The chief minister also asked the director general of Police VK Bhawra to keep a close tab over the current scenario in Patiala and constantly update him. Mann categorically said that law and order of Punjab was a prime concern, and “whosoever influential maybe, would not be allowed to take law into his own hands," the statement added.
Tension first emerged near a Kali temple in Patiala after radical Sikh elements came out in large numbers to oppose a Khalistan Murdabad March organised by the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray). Singh led an anti-separatist march from Patiala's Arya Samaj Chowk to the temple, and declared that the group will never allow “Khalistan to be formed in Punjab or anywhere in India”.
Singla was referring to reports of Gurpatwant Pannu, convener of banned Sikhs for Justice organisation, leading calls to mark the foundation day of Khalistan on April 29. Singla's march was organised to oppose Pannu's call. Responding to this, pro-Khalistani activists assembly and the two sides engaged in violence by pelting stones at each other and brandishing swords.
Patiala senior superintendent of police (SSP) Nanak Singh reached the spot and later cops fired 15 rounds of shots in the air to control the situation. Quoting a senior police officer, news agency ANI reported that Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) did not have permission for the march.
Mann took to Twitter soon after and called the incident “deeply unfortunate”. He further stated that he spoke with DGP Bhawra and peace has been “restored in the area (Patiala)”.
The political fraternity reacted strongly to the Patiala clashes, including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who called the visuals from the incident “disturbing”.
“I repeat, Peace & Harmony are most imperative in a sensitive border state like Punjab. This is not the place to carry out experiments. Earnestly appeal to the Punjab govt to ensure law and order is maintained,” he tweeted.
Former chief minister of Punjab and supremo of Punjab Lok Congress Captain Amarinder Singh also took to Twitter to express his concerns over the incident. Addressing the people of Patiala, who he called “peace loving”, Singh urged them not to “get provoked” and said he hoped Punjab Police will take firm action to ensure law and order in the city is maintained.
A curfew has been imposed in Patiala till Saturday 6am to prevent further clashes from breaking out and also to maintain the peace.