At least five Congress activists sustained burn injuries as they tried to light Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s effigy during a protest march against NDA allegedly targeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case.
The incident took place near Deputy Commissioner’s office where PCC president Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu had led a peaceful demonstration after the party’s call for state-wide protests. Sukhwinder had a narrow escape as one of the activists pushed him aside before the effigy went up in flames.
One activist, Manoj Adhikari, was admitted to Shimla’s Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC) hospital with severe burn injuries while three others were given first aid and discharged. A woman activist’s clothes also caught fire. She however did not sustain any burns.
PCC ‘s Chief spokesman Naresh Chauhan said, “All this happened suddenly. A major tragedy was averted somehow because of a few alert activists. Only one person has sustained serious injuries while rest had minor burns and will recover.”
Eyewitnesses said the party workers, who had assembled close to the Central Telegraph office (CTO), were raising anti-Modi slogans. The PCC president and few other leaders also addressed the workers before Sukhu announced that the gathering will burn the effigy of the Prime Minister Modi.
“A Sikh gentleman had turned up with a bottle filled with petrol and poured on the effigy amidst slogans and cheers. The fire flared -up and engulfed some of the activists,” said a party leader.
Earlier addressing workers, Sukhu lashed out at the NDA government for a malicious campaign against the congress and its top leaders under its agenda of “Congress Mukt Bharat” backed by PM Modi .
“And to follow the BJP’s petty vendetta politics, a completely misconceived private complaint was instituted by Subramanian Swamy, who is a Member of BJP’s Central Committee, which is aimed at sensationalism, political revenge and a shoddy attempt to malign the congress leadership,” he said.
Those present at the protest included PCC general secretary Harbhajan Singh Bhajji, Chief Parliamentary secretary Rajesh Dharmani, Rohit Thakur and Mansa Ram.
The protests were also held in other districts like Mandi, Kangra, Solan, Hamirpur and Bilaspur .
Meanwhile BJP general secretary Rajeev Bindal took a strong exception to the Congress’ action of burning the PM’s effigy. He said it was done to divert the public’s attention from the corruption charges faced by the party’s national and state leadership. Bindal wondered how the police remained a mute spectator and demanded a probe into the role of the police.
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