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Four arrested for Phagwara clashes; Dalit locality puts up barricades

Mobile internet suspended in Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr till April 16.

punjab Updated: Apr 15, 2018 20:42 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Phagwara
Phagwara clashes,Dalit,Hindu right-wing
Police personnel taking out a flag march after the clash in Phagwara between Dalit and right-wing Hindu groups in Jalandhar.(Pardeep Pandit/HT)

A day after the clash between members of Dalit groups and Hindu right-wing organisations over the renaming of the ‘Gol Chowk’ in the city, Phagwara police have arrested four people, associated with the right-wing.

In a related move, mobile internet and SMS services have been suspended in four districts of Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr till April 16. As per the order, mobile internet services, including 2G, 3G, 4G, CDMA and GPRS, all SMS services and all dongle services provided on mobile networks, except voice calls, will remain suspended.

Those held on Sunday were senior state vice-president of Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) Inderjit Karwal; Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Suraksha Samiti state president Deepak Bhardwaj, Shiv Sena leader Shivi Batta and one Rajiv Chahal.

They have been booked for attempt to murder, hurting religious sentiments and other sections of the IPC. A local court has remanded them in judicial custody for 14 days. Around 100 people, including 33 by name, were booked on Saturday.

Adding to the tension, residents of Dalit-dominated Subash Nagar locality put up barricades at the entry points, like the Valmiki Chowk and others, denying access to the police, the media and even political leaders. Only those from the Scheduled Castes were allowed. They are demanding the cancellation of the First-Information Reports (FIRs) against members of their community. Police had deployed heavy security.

“Members of Hindu right-wing organisations created ruckus and clashed with the Dalits. They tore down our religious posters and also opened fire, injuring five of us,” Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) leader Jarnail Nangal claimed, demanding the cancellation of the FIR against himself and other Dalits in Friday’s clashes.

Meetings held to restore normalcy

Later in the day, Kapurthala district Congress committee president Joginder Singh Mann met members of the Ambedkar Sena. “Initially, some BJP workers did not allow me to enter the locality. Later, I met members of the Ambedkar Sena,” Mann said. Representatives of the General Samaj Manch also met the SSP and the DC against the arrests.

“Police are biased and have not arrested anyone from the opposite group,” claimed organisation president, Vijay Sharma. SSP Sandeep Sharma said, “Four people have been arrested. As more evidence emerges, there will be more arrests, but after an inquiry.”

CM warns culprits

Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has also taken note of the situation and warned of strict action. “We will not allow Punjab’s peace to be disturbed at any cost and culprits will be punished. The government will bear all expenses for the treatment of those injured in the incident,” he said.

Deputy commissioner Mohammad Tayyab said, “We will bear the treatment cost. The Kaputhala Red Cross Society has released Rs 1.25 lakh for the treatment of Kulwinder, one of the injured, who is undergoing treatment at a private hospital.”

First Published: Apr 15, 2018 20:36 IST