Malerkotla was shut for the third consecutive day on Wednesday,with protests continuing since the murder of a 12-year-old boy here on Monday.
Today it was the turn of Muslim organisations to sit on dharnas across the city. They were protesting the rounding up of five Muslim boys by police for investigations last night.
Thousands of youths from the community came out on the roads this morning and held rallies. They blocked traffic at all major chowks and jammed rail traffic. The Ludhiana-Hisar train was cancelled. Shops remained closed for the third consecutive day.
Most of the protesters were teenagers and were not led by any leaders of Muslim organisations. They were seen carrying bricks. Some residents threw stones from rooftops. One boy sustained injuries and has been admitted in a local hospital.
The protesters claimed that the police had falsely implicating the boys in the murder of 12-year-old Vibhu Jain. They accused the police of creating communal tension by rounding up Muslims.
Mufti-e-Punjab Mufti Irtakar-ul-Hasan-Kandhalvi appealed to the Muslim community to maintain peace and asked them not to come out on the streets and stoke communal tension.
Vishav Hindu Sangathan members also condemned the incident and asked the police to arrest the culprits soon.
Anti-riot police were called in to quell the protests and the police took out a flag march. Late in the afternoon,the police also held a meeting with representatives of all religious organisations and asked them to appeal to the masses to maintain peace.
Sources said that the police had rounded up five boys,of whom two worked at Vibhus father Navneet Jains shop. The three others worked in nearby shops.
Vibhu often sat at his fathers shop which sold kites. Last week he allegedly had a confrontation with two boys over the prices of kites. Although the family expressed faith in the workers,the police said they were called to the police station to seek details about others who visited the shop recently.
The police have taken the five detainees to the outskirts of the city. Despite the pressure to release them,they were still being questioned till the time of filing this report.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines