A Punjab Assembly legislator’s property was damaged by a mob on Saturday morning in Ludhiana’s Malerkotla after a group, which wanted to complain about someone “tearing” the pages of the Quran, was allegedly turned away from meeting her.
Tension started at 10 pm Friday when pages of the Quran were found near Jarg Chowk in Malerkotla. Around 1 am, a group of people went to meet MLA Farzana Nissara Khatoon, who stays on Ludhiana-Malerkotla road, but were allegedly turned away.
According to area DSP Randhir Singh, the MLA’s security fired in self-defence against the 300-strong crowd that had assembled at the gates. The mob then started to attack the security and police personnel.
During the incident, several people managed to climb the wall of the compound and torch the security guards’ cabin. They damaged vehicles of the MLA and police and also smashed several tables and chairs. Police added that a private bus was torched by protesters.
The crowd dispersed after additional forces from Sangrur arrived at the scene. ADGP (Law and order) H S Dhillon visited the spot and said that a probe was on to arrest the culprits.
Over 250 persons have been booked on attempt to murder charges but no arrest has been made so far. Although the situation is under control, police said the city is still tense.
“We have lodged three FIRs,” Randhir Singh said. “One is regarding the alleged desecration of the Quran, the second is against those who attacked the police and the third is against those who damaged property. We have recovered CCTV footage to nab the accused.”
Meanwhile, the MLA said, “It is political mischief by rival parties and the police need to answer this query at the earliest.”
Her husband, former Punjab police DGP (Prisons) Izhar Alam, claimed, “The Congress is behind this. The police will investigate and get to the root of this.”
“Two persons have been injured in the incident. However, we are yet to record their statements as they left the hospital before we arrived,” said Pritpal Singh Thind, SSP, Sangrur.
“We do not believe that anyone was injured due to the firing,” said Alam. “It might have been from a country-made pistol by someone in the mob.”
Six police personnel were also injured in the incident.
Soon after the “torn” pages were discovered, Ertiqual Hasan Kandhlavi, Mufti of Punjab, appealed to the protesters to call off their protests and allow the police to investigate the matter.
Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann, in a separate statement, condemned the incident and demanded judicial inquiry through a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana high court.