Ram Rahim verdict fallout in Punjab: Malwa burns, curfew imposed in 8 districts
Taking no chances, the Punjab government called the army to help and maintain peace and communal harmony in 10 districts of the Malwa region, which is dominated by dera followers, over the next 24 hours.punjab Updated: Aug 25, 2017 23:34 IST
The Malwa region of Punjab witnessed a series of violent protests after a Panchkula CBI court held Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case on Friday. Curfew was also imposed in eight district — Patiala, Muktsar, Mansa, Bathinda, Ferozepur, Fazilka, Moga and Sangrur — as a precautionary measure.
No loss to the human life has been reported so far, even as the dera followers, under a well-planned strategy, made attempts to damage government and private properties by hurling petrol bombs at filling stations, railway stations, power grids, telephone exchanges and sewa kendras.
Taking no chances, the Punjab government called the army to help and maintain peace and communal harmony in 10 districts of the Malwa region, which is dominated by dera followers, over the next 24 hours.
The police have launched a major crackdown on trouble makers and have arrested several dera supporters, including a member of its state-level committee.
Army would be deployed in Sangrur, Barnala, Mohali, Bathinda, Mansa, Ferozepur, Fazilka, Faridkot, Muktsar and Moga. Punjab has also sought at least 150 more companies of central forces after violence erupted in Haryana’s Panchkula.
Eleven senior police officers, including ADGP (1), IGP (4), DIG (3) and commandants (3), have been deputed to supervise the security arrangements over the next 24 hours in the Malwa region, especially during the night, an official spokesperson said.
Police have also arrested five dera supporters involved in the attempt to set the Balluana railway station in Bathinda on fire. Two weapons have been recovered from them.
According to reports from districts, at least 15 vehicles were set ablaze, six petrol pumps were burnt, eight power grids were damaged, 20 sewa kendras were ransacked and three telephone exchanges were set afire by dera followers.
They also burnt railway stations at Malout in Muktsar district and in Balluana in Bathinda. Both the railway stations were attacked by petrol bombs, the police said. In Moga, dera followers made an attempt to burn the Dagru railway station, 15km away from Moga.
“We have imposed curfew in these districts only as a precautionary measure. Dera followers tried to go on a rampage in the state, but the police have thwarted their attempt by strongly reacting to the situation,” director general of police Suresh Arora told HT.
In Mansa, income tax office was attacked by some masked men and two vehicles parked in the office were burnt. Two petrol pumps were ransacked in Musa and Banawali village in the afternoon and sewa kendras were ransacked in Borawal, Hodla Kalan and Chehlanwala village with petrol filled bottles. Two power grids of the PSPCL in Datewas and Matti village were damaged. The car of a junior engineer posted at Matti power grid was also damaged, said the police.
In Bathinda, the protesters damaged a power grid of near Balluana, besides sewa kendras at, Jivan Singh Wala, Bhai Rupa, Laleana, Mahi Nangal, Bandi, Kotfatta, Kuti Kishanpura and Khyali Chailan villages. The dera followers also hurled a petrol bomb at the BSNL office in Rama Mandi.
In Muktsar, a petrol-vending machine was damaged at Hakuwala village and an attempt was made to set it afire while an unsuccessful attempt was made to torch a BSNL exchange in Tapa Khera. Dera followers also set ablaze a petrol pump at Burj Sidhwan village near Lambi. A telephone exchange near Tappa Khera village was also damaged. BSNL exchange in Chananwal village and a sewa kendra at Handiaya of Barnala were also ransacked.
In Patiala and Sangrur districts, the police have registered three first information reports against unidentified persons after sporadic incidents in which unsuccessful bid was made to torch a school in Banur. Besides a foodgrain warehouse in Samana, BSNL exchange and a tehsil office was ransacked in Sangrur. No untoward incident was reported in Fazilka and Ferozepur district barring minor skirmishes.
First Published: Aug 25, 2017 22:14 IST