A day after Patiala witnessed clashes between two groups during an anti-Khalistan march that left four people injured, the Punjab government today took strict action against the state police, removing three top officers from their posts over their failure to control the violence in the district. The clashes in Patiala were political and not communal as reported earlier, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann told NDTV today, saying that Shiv Sena and BJP workers and Shiromani Akali Dal men were behind the clashes.
The Inspector General of Police (Patiala Range), the Patiala Senior Superintendent of Police and the Superintendent of Police were transferred from the post following orders from Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, who is reportedly upset about the police response to the violence, sources told NDTV.
Three people have been arrested so far and six FIRs registered in the case, the Patiala police said. The prime accused who was leading the pro-Khalistan group is on the run, Patiala IGP MS Chinna said at a press conference adding that they will "leave no stone unturned" to catch the accused. Shiv Sena leader Harish Singla is among those arrested. A court today sent him to two days of police custody, news agency ANI reported.
A spokesperson of the Chief Minister's Office said Mukhwinder Singh Chinna has been appointed as the new IG-Patiala Range while Deepak Parik will be the new senior superintendent of police for Patiala.
Wazir Singh has been appointed as the new superintendent of police of Patiala.
A curfew that was imposed in the city at 7 pm yesterday was lifted at 6 am today but mobile internet and SMS services were blocked in the city to prevent rumor-mongering, officials said. All mobile internet and SMS services, except voice calls, will remain suspended in the district from 9:30 am till 6 pm, the state government said.
"Mobile internet services (2G/3G/4G/CDMA), all SMS services and all dongle services etc provided on mobile networks except voice calls in the territorial jurisdiction of the District of Patiala from 9:30 am to 6 pm on 30th April 2022.All Telecom Services providers in the State of Punjab and Head of BSNL (Punjab Jurisdiction) are hereby directed to ensure compliance of this order," said the state government release.
The decision was taken by the government to prevent rumor-mongering, Patiala Deputy Commissioner was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
"Peace and calm should be maintained. The situation is under control. Mobile internet services are temporarily suspended today to stop rumor-mongering. FIRs filed in three instances.On the basis of evidence gathered from video footage action will be taken," she added.
Speaking to NDTV this morning, Mr Mann added that his government is taking all necessary steps, including confidence-building measures, to create harmony among the residents.
"The issue has been solved. There were few Shiv Sena members, and some from the BJP, their district head. On the other side, there were Shiromani Akali Dal workers. It was a clash between two political parties. It was not a communal clash," Mr Mann said.
Clashes broke out outside the Kali Mata temple when members of an outfit that calls itself Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) began a 'Khalistan Murdabad March'. Members of the two groups also waved swords and threw stones at each other.
The situation was brought under control after police fired in the air to disperse the crowd.
Later in the evening, Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) leader Harish Singla was arrested after a high-level meeting chaired by the Chief Minister.
Mr Mann called the incident unfortunate and vowed his government would not let anyone create disturbance in the state.