Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam
Hours after a clash broke out between two groups in Punjab's Patiala during a protest against the Khalistan movement on Friday, 29 April, Shiv Sena leader Harish Singla, who was allegedly behind the rally, was arrested by the Punjab Police.
The decision was taken after a high-level meeting conducted by Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Bhagwant Mann.
Shiv Sena (Hindustan) cadre and Sikh activists clashed near the Kali Mata temple in the city, after the Sena's anti-Khalistan rally was allegedly countered by a march by the Sikh activists. The march had been taken out from the Gurudwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib.
Singla had earlier been expelled by the Shiv Sena, who said that his actions had nothing to do with the party. Section 144 was also imposed by the District Magistrate from 7 pm on Friday till 6 am on Saturday.
After the clashes broke out, the police fired shots into the air to disperse the crowd.
One station house officer (SHO) was initially reported to be injured in the violence. Later, Patiala SSP Nanak Singh informed that four people were injured in the incident.
Later on Friday, the National Commission of Minorities (NCM) wrote a letter to the chief secretary of Punjab over the clashes between the two groups in Patiala district and sought a detailed report on the matter within a week.
Details About the Incident
As per reports, stone-pelting had also ensued during the confrontation between the two groups, and a few people were injured.
"Seeing the problem of law and order here, police have been deployed. We are speaking with Shiv Sena's chief Harish Singla as they don't have any permission for the march," a senior police officer was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Patiala Inspector General of Police Rakesh Agarwal said that the situation was now under control and that additional forces have been called to maintain law and order. “We have called force from outside. A Peace committee meeting has been called by the Deputy Commissioner,” he said, news agency PTI reported.
Meanwhile, SSP Patiala Nanak Singh said, "Police took suitable action, both the groups were intimated earlier that they aren't allowed to take out procession. They sought permission but were refused. Due to some rumours, atmosphere became tense. 4 people were injured & investigation is underway."
Sena Refuses to Take Responsibility in Case of Any 'Untoward' Incident
Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena's Punjab unit president Yograj Sharma issued a statement saying that the party had nothing to do with the rally organised by Singla and refused to take responsibility if any untoward incident occured.
"The programme organised by Harish Singla in Patiala has nothing to do with the Shiv Sena. This program is a private one, whose responsibility rests with Harish Singla. If any untoward incident happens during the programme, it is the responsibility of Harish Singla and Shiv Sena party has nothing to do with this program," the statement read.
Patiala Incident 'Deeply Unfortunate': CM Bhagwant Mann
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said that the incident was "deeply unfortunate" and that the situation was being closely monitored.
"The incident of clashes in Patiala are deeply unfortunate. I spoke with the DGP, peace has been restored in the area. We are closely monitoring the situation and will not let anyone create disturbance in the state. Punjab’s peace and harmony is of utmost importance," he wrote on Twitter.
Any Person Attempting to Disturb Punjab's Peace Won't Be Spared: Raghav Chadha
AAP Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha also reacted to the incident in Patiala and said, "I want to clarify that this unfortunate violent clash in Patiala today was not between two groups but the workers of 2 political parties – on one side, there were people from Shiv Sena & Congress and on the other side, people from Shiromani Akali Dal."
"The anti-social elements of both parties got involved in this clash, created violence & attempted to soil the atmosphere of Punjab. Any person attempting to disturb Punjab's peace will not be spared. Police have restored law & order immediately," he further said, as per ANI.
"Many people have been arrested as well. Punjab government & police will take strict action against those behind this violence. The masterminds of these political parties will not be spared," he added.
'Punjab Not a Place to Carry Out Experiments', Says Rahul Gandhi
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also took to Twitter to condemn the incident, calling it "unfortunate".
"Visuals from Patiala are 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," Gandhi tweeted.
(With inputs from ANI.)