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Phagwara: Caste flare up continues as situation remains tense

Shopkeepers shut shop on Tuesday evening after reports of members of the Dalit community forcing a local shopkeeper to shut down his shop in the Bansawala Bazaar.

punjab Updated: Apr 25, 2018 14:45 IST
Jatinder Mahal
Jatinder Mahal
Hindustan Times, Phagwara
Phagwara,Caste flare up,renaming chowk
Phagwara MLA Som Parkash addressing protestors in Phagwara on Wednesday. (HT Photo )

12 days after clash had broken out between members of a Dalit outfit and Hindu “upper caste” right-wing groups, tension again escalated in the town on Wednesday after members of General Samaj Manch and local shopkeepers continued their protest for the second consecutive day.

Shopkeepers shut shop on Tuesday evening after reports of members of the Dalit community forcing a local shopkeeper to shut down his shop in the Bansawala Bazaar.

Following this, shopkeepers protested police inaction on Banga road. Later, members of the General Samaj Manch also joined the protest and demanded action against miscreants. They also demanded arrest of Dalits for “creating trouble” in town.

On Wednesday, majority shops and private schools remained closed amid heavy police deployment at all major chowks.

Senior politicians and councillors belonging to both SAD-BJP and Congress extended their support to the general community and joined the protest on Wednesday.

Phagwara MLA Som Parkash, mayor Arun Khosla, SAD leader Jarnail Singh Wahid, Congress councillor Sanjeev Bugga and many others were present at the protest. They demanded immediate arrest of Lok Insaaf Party leader Jarnail Nangal and Ambedkar Sena (Mool Niwasi) president Harbhajan Suman, blaming them for the clash on April 13.

Addressing protesters, Som Prakash blamed politicians of other districts for playing politics on the issue.

He said that protocol dictates that before renaming a chowk, the issue be taken up in an MC meeting .

“CM or DGP of the state has no authority to change the name. Moreover, the MC had already passed an agenda seven years ago to rename ‘Gol Chowk’ after Bhagat Singh,” he said.

On Tuesday evening, chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh sought to assuage the sentiments of the Dalit community by giving the approval to rename Phagwara’s Gol Chowk as Samvidhan (Constitution) Chowk.

Mayor Khosla said that he has put an agenda on Wednesday in the MC to call a meeting of all Councillors to change the name of Chowk as Bhagat Singh Chowk.

Meanwhile, in support of General Samaj Manch demands, many local Congress councillors announced that they will submit their resignation in protest of Congress government’s agreement to rename the chowk.

First Published: Apr 25, 2018 14:41 IST