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Phagwara tense after Dalit teen injured in April 13 clash succumbs to bullet injury

The authorities also suspended internet services in the entire Doaba region and Ludhiana at 11pm on Saturday for a period of 24 hours.

punjab Updated: Apr 29, 2018 22:05 IST
Jatinder Mahal
Jatinder Mahal
Hindustan Times, Phagwara
Phagwara clash,caste flare-up,Doaba
A minor scuffle took place after cremation of Yaswant Bobby in Phagwara on Sunday. (Pardeep Pandit/HT )

Tension prevailed in Phagwara on Sunday after a Dalit teen, who was critically injured in the April 13 clash on renaming a crossing on National Highway 1 as Samvidhan Chowk, died at a hospital in Ludhiana.

Yashwant Bobby, 19, received a bullet injury during the clash between Dalit outfits and Hindu right-wing groups. He succumbed to injuries at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital in Ludhiana in the wee hours of Sunday. Four other people were also injured in the clash.

The authorities also suspended internet services in the entire Doaba region and Ludhiana at 11pm on Saturday for a period of 24 hours. The traffic on NH-1 between Ludhiana and Jalandhar was also diverted through link roads to prevent entry to Phagwara.

Bobby’s body reached the town in the morning after postmortem by doctors under tight police security. A team led by assistant inspector general (AIG intelligence) Harkamalpreet Singh Khakh and Kapurthala superintendent of police (headquarters) Jaskiranjit Singh Teja were assigned the task to maintain law and order in the town.

Though tension gripped Phagwara, Bobby’s cremation passed off peacefully. Heavy police force, personnel of Rapid Action Force, BSF and anti-riots squads fortified the town by blocking all entry and exit points during the cremation. Markets also remained closed. Vehicular movement was restricted and police did not allow anybody to go towards the Banga road, where the cremation took place.

Earlier, members of the Dalit community carried the bier on their shoulders on Banga Road demanding naming of Gol Chowk as Samvidhan Chowk and even placing a memorial of Bobby at the point. But they were persuaded by AIG Khakh after which the body was taken to cremation ground. Bobby’s younger brother lit the pyre amid slogans against the Hindu right-wing outfits.

“The accused should be punished and police should arrest all the right-wing leaders involved in the clash,” said Bobby’s father Charanjit Laddi.

Political leaders, including Congress Punjab SC cell in-charge and Chabbewal MLA Raj Kumar, district Congress chief Joginder Singh Mann, Shiromani Akali Dal’s Adampur MLA Pawan Kumar Tinu and local councillors were present during the cremation.

Murder charges slapped

The police of Sunday added murder charges in the FIR registered against arrested right-wing leaders. A day after the clash, around 100 people, including 33 by name, were booked under Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 295A (hurting religious sentiments), 392 (robbery), 353 (assault), 186, 427, 148 and 149 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and provisions of the Arms Act and the National Highways Act.

In the FIR, besides Hindu right-wing leaders, police had also included names of Lok Insaaf Party leader Jarnail Nangal and Ambedkar Sena (Mool Niwasi) president Harbhajan Suman.

Four people, including Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) senior state vice-president Inderjit Karwal, Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Suraksha Samiti state president Deepak Bhardwaj, Shiv Sena leader Shivi Batta and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha leader Rajiv Chahal were arrested on April 14.

Must read | HT Spotlight: Doaba flashpoint: Phagwara on the edge over caste faultline

Jaswant Bobby’s cremation took place in Phagwara on Sunday. (Pardeep Pandit/HT )

Family gets Rs 5 lakh relief

Kapurthala DC Mohammad Tayyab handed over the cheque for Rs 5 lakh to Bobby’s mother and promised a government job to a member of the family on Sunday evening. But the family demanded a compensation of Rs 25 lakh. The DC assured to take up their demand with the state government.

(The story has been updated)

First Published: Apr 29, 2018 09:50 IST