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Patiala Violence: 3 senior police officers shunted, cops failed to gauge build-up despite intel inputs

Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann gave a dressing down to DGP Viresh Bhawra for not being able to tackle the situation, “despite a buildup and intelligence inputs”.

Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann gave a dressing down to DGP Viresh Bhawra for not being able to tackle the situation, “despite a buildup and intelligence inputs”.

The Punjab government on Saturday shunted out three senior police officers including an inspector general even as Patiala was limping back to normalcy with security personnel keeping a tight vigil a day after clashes between two groups over an anti-Khalistan march. 

The police booked 25 accused by name so far in six FIRs registered in connection with Friday’s incident which left four persons injured. Mobile internet and SMS services were suspended from 9.30 am by the state’s home affairs and justice department till 4 pm.

The AAP government in the state transferred Inspector General of Police (Patiala Range) Rakesh Agrawal, Patiala Senior Superintendent of Police Nanak Singh and the Patiala superintendent of police with immediate effect.         

A spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office said Mukhwinder Singh Chhina was appointed as the new IG-Patiala while Deepak Parik will be the new Patiala SSP. Wazir Singh has been appointed as the new superintendent of police of Patiala.    

The transfers came amid reports that Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann Friday evening gave a dressing down to Director General of Police (DGP) Viresh Bhawra for not being able to tackle the situation, “despite a buildup and intelligence inputs”.

According to a report by The Indian Express, the violent clash outside ‘Shri Kali Devi Mandir’ was not spontaneous, and was rather a result of confrontation in the making for a week. 

The build-up started after Harish Singla, the working president for the Punjab unit of Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray), announced ‘Khalistan Murdabad March’ to protest against a call given by the outlawed Sikhs for Justice to hoist pro-Khalistan flags outside government offices in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh on April 29.   

Specifically for Patiala, but marked to other police officers across the state as well, a correspondence by Assistant Inspector of Police (AIG) Intelligence-2 Harcharan Singh Bhullar, on behalf of Special DGP (Intelligence) Prabodh Kumar, read that on Friday “70/80 workers of Shiv Sena Bal Thackerey led by Harish Singla has decided to take out a ‘Khalistan Murdabad’ march to counter the “khalistan Declaration Day”, reported The Indian Express.

It further read that “90/100 leaders/workers of Damdami Taksal Jatha Rajpura under the leadership of Barjinder Singh Parwana will gather” at Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib “to oppose the “Khalistan Murdabad” march. They (Parwana faction) have also announced to carry out Kesari march if the Hindu organizations will hold the said march. Subsequently, supporters of Bhindranwale Action Committee led by Bagicha Singh Rattakhera have also decided to oppose the above said Khalistan Murdabad March.”     

Singla was arrested on Friday after he was booked under various sections including 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation) of the IPC.

This is the first major law and order incident in the state under the Bhagwant Mann-led state government. Opposition parties had attacked the AAP-led regime, alleging that the law and order in the state had collapsed. Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had ordered a probe into the clashes and had said that not a single culprit will be spared.

A meeting of the district level peace committee was also held on Saturday here in which local MLAs, senior police officials and representatives of the religious bodies appealed to people to maintain peace and harmony.

Talking to the media earlier, Patiala Deputy Commissioner Sawhney said the situation is calm and peaceful. To a question on whether one person received bullet injury in Friday’s incident, he said a bullet had hit a person but it was yet not clear how it hit him. Videos are being examined..the patient is stable, said the DC.

Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema appealed to people to maintain peace and harmony and also said that whosoever was behind the Friday incident will not be spared. “CM Mann saab himself is monitoring the situation,” he further said.

Meanwhile, Punjab BJP leaders led by its state unit chief Ashwani Sharma on Saturday paid obeisance at Kali Mata temple and appealed to the people to maintain peace and harmony Sharma demanded an independent probe into the incident and strict action against those who were behind this incident.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief spokesperson Malwinder Singh Kang on Saturday said some divisive forces were trying to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in Punjab. Divisive forces which thrive in destruction and chaos are trying to vitiate the peace and social harmony in Punjab.

Punjab is known for resilience and Universal brotherhood will not allow such nefarious Designs to succeed. Every step in the book will be taken to nail the culprits, said Kang in a tweet.

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