Curfew in Patiala after clash over ‘anti-Khalistan march’

Curfew in Patiala after clash over ‘anti-Khalistan march’
Curfew in Kashmir. (file pic for representation)

Patiala, Apr 29: Curfew was clamped Friday evening after four people were injured when two groups clashed over an anti-Khalistan march in this Punjab city, hurling stones at each other. Police opened fire in the air to bring the situation under control.

The curfew will be enforced between 7 pm Friday and 6 am Saturday in Patiala district, authorities said. Essential services were exempted.

Hours later, police arrested Harish Singla, working president of a group called "Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray)" for taking out the procession without permission and instigating violence.

The clash took place outside the Kali Mata temple after Singla's group had begun the "KhalistanMurdabad March" from the nearby AryaSamajChowk.

Some Sikh activists, including Nihangs, who had initially gathered at DukhNiwaran Sahib Gurdwara, marched towards the temple, a few of them seen brandishing swords. Their procession too did not have permission from the authorities, officials said.

Near the temple, the two groups came face to face and hurled stones at each other, police said. The temple gates were locked and police deployed in large numbers to prevent the violence from spreading further in the city, officials said.

Harish Singla said the march was organised as a reply to the announcement by the Sikhs for Justice to mark April 29 as the foundation day of Khalistan . The banned group based overseas is headed by Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

Two of the four people injured in the violence are policemen. Their condition is stable, police said. They have registered a case over the violence.

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann summoned a high-level meeting of officers after the clash. The CM later said he has ordered a probe into the clash and given strict instructions that not a single culprit is spared.

"Anti-Punjab forces will not be allowed to disturb Punjab's peace at any cost," he said.

"The incident of clashes in Patiala is deeply unfortunate, he tweeted. We are closely monitoring the situation and will not let anyone create disturbance in the state."

A few hours after the clash, Patiala Inspector General of Police RakeshAgarwal told reporters that the situation was under control.

"We have called force from outside. A peace committee meeting has been called by the Deputy Commissioner on Saturday," he said.

He said the incident took place because of rumours spread by some some mischievous elements .

We have controlled the situation. We are also conducting a flag march in Patiala city," he added.

Patiala Deputy Commissioner-cum District Magistrate SakshiSawhney said, We appeal to all to maintain calm and not to lend credence to any rumours."

Several Punjab ministers and MLAs expressed concern over the violence.

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