Patiala: Senior cops removed, FIRs filed, internet blocked after clashes
The Punjab government on Saturday cracked the whip on the police, dismissing three top officers after two groups clashed during an anti-Khalistan march in Patiala on Friday, leaving four people injured. The action was taken after the initial probe found these top officials from Patiala failed to control the violence. Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has also ordered the transfer of the senior cops.
- Patiala witnessed clashes on Friday over a "Khalistan Murdabad March" organized by an outfit named Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray).
- Hindu organizations had also called for a "Patiala Bandh," demanding the arrest of Khalistani supporters.
- An 11-hour curfew (until 6:00 am Saturday) was imposed following the Friday clashes, but mobile internet and SMS services—barring voice calls—will remain blocked until 6:00 pm Saturday to thwart rumor-mongering.
Mann was reportedly dissatisfied with the police response to Friday's violence and the Inspector-General of Police (Patiala Range) and Patiala's Senior Superintendent of Police and Superintendent of Police were transferred. According to a spokesperson for the CM's Office, Mukhwinder Singh Chinna has been appointed as the new IG (Patiala Range). Meanwhile, Deepak Parik and Wazir Singh have been named Patiala's new SSP and SP, respectively.
Four FIRs were filed in relation to Patiala's clashes, said the police. Harish Singla—the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) chief who has now been expelled by the party—was arrested on Friday following a high-level meeting chaired by Mann. Visuals from the incident showed members of Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) and a group of Sikh activists, including Nihangs, brandishing swords and pelting stones at each other.
Mann has also ordered an investigation into the violence, saying strict action will be taken against the accused. "Anti-Punjab forces will not be allowed to disturb Punjab's peace at any cost," he said. Following the clashes, the situation in Patiala reportedly remained tense but under control. A large number of police personnel have been deployed to keep the law and order situation under control.