Hours before a meeting called by “General Category Manch”, the Special Investigating Team (SIT) on Wednesday arrested eight persons from the Dalit community while Harbhajan Suman, the main accused in the April 13 Phagwara clash, surrendered himself before SIT. All nine were later remanded to judicial custody by a court till May 25.
The Phagwara police had earlier arrested four persons of radical Hindu outfits in connection with the clash that had left one person dead. The three-member SIT headed by SP (headquarters) Kapurthal Jaskaran Singh Teja to probe the case was formed around 10 days back. Those arrested today include the founder-president of Dr Ambedkar Sena Mool Niwasi, Harbhjan Suman, who is the main accused. He allegedly led the attempt to rename the local Gol Chowk as “Samvidhan Chowk” on the eve of Dr Ambedkar’s birth anniversary on April 14, which led to the clash between Dalit activists and members of radical Hindu outfits.
During the clash, one side opened fire, injuring Yashwant alias Bobby (18) and Kulwinder Singh. Yashwant, who was hit in his head, died at Dyanand Medical College Hospital in Ludhiana on April 29, while Kulwinder, who received bullet injury in pelvic region, survived. Both were from the Dalit community. Following the clash, police had booked around 33 persons from both sides and arrested four members of Hindu outfits the next day.
Earlier, Suman was arrested by the police on April 30 in a separate case and was released the next day. For about a month after the clash, police and paramilitary forces were deployed in Phagwara and markets remained closed for several days.
Meanwhile, the “General Category Manch” held a meeting in Phagwara on Wednesday to decide future course of action in the wake of alleged inaction on part of the police and civil administration in resolving their grievances.