February 3, 2021 1:25:54 am
Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Badal’s car was damaged and four persons injured during a clash between Congress and SAD workers in Tehsil Complex of Fazilka’s Jalalabad Assembly constituency Tuesday morning. Both sides allegedly opened fire in the parking area of the complex, while Sukhbir’s car was attacked with bricks and stones. The SAD president escaped unhurt.
Late in the evening, Fazilka police lodged an FIR against 50-60 unidentified persons on charges of attempt to murder, Arms Act , rioting and unlawful assembly and voluntarily causing hurt. After the FIR was filed, SAD lifted its dharna demanding police action against the culprits from Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar of Jalalabad.
The FIR was lodged on the complaint of SAD leader Satinderjeet Singh Manta. In his complaint, Manta mentioned that Congress MLA Raminder Singh Awla and his son, Jatin Awla, along with 50-60 persons had attacked them and even had opened fire on them. MLA and his son have not been mentioned as the main accused and the FIR has been lodged against unidentified persons only.
Earlier in the day, Akali Dal chief and Ferozepur MP Badal and his supporters had reached Jalalabad administrative complex to file nomination forms of their party nominees for the municipal polls. In the meantime, Congressmen accompanied by Jalalabad party MLA Raminder Awla’s son, Jatin Awla, also reached there to file nomination papers of their party men, SAD workers claimed. The clash happened at around 11.30 am.
The two groups first engaged in a verbal spat and later Congressmen are alleged to have gathered around Badal’s vehicle to oppose him, triggering a violent clash during which the two groups pelted stones at each other, police said. According to police, some gunshots too were fired but it was yet to be ascertained who fired them. Police lathi-charged the mob to disperse it.
SAD president alleged that Jatin Awla, son of Congress MLA Raminder Awla, first fired in air and the MLA had hired goons to attack SAD workers.
While staging a sit-in to demand action against the guilty, Badal had said, “We will not lift dharna till the time FIR with attempt to murder charges is not lodged against Jatin Awla and Congress MLA Raminder Singh Awla.”
A video of the incident that is being widely shared on the social media shows stones being pelted on the vehicle of SAD president while he is sitting inside the car. While workers of both parties can be seen running here and there, noise gunshots being fired is also heard in the background. Sources claimed that SAD leader Vardev Mann, who had contested MLA elections from Guru Harsahai also opened fire in the area and more than 15 rounds were fired in the area. While police said four had been injured, two each from both sides, SAD said that three of its workers had been hurt in the clash. The party said that those injured from its ranks included one Sonu and another SAD worker who are admitted in Faridkot medical college and Gursewak Singh who after getting his arm bandaged was seen standing in the dharna along with SAD president in Jalalabad.
Congress workers who have been injured include: Ranjit Singh and Dhiraj Kumar, who were admitted in local hospital of Jalalabad. Sukhbir alleged, “Congress MLA was trying to dominate in this election and harassing our workers. I had got to know about this incident Monday itself due to which I came from Delhi to be with workers of my area.”
MLA Raminder Singh Awla said, “Sukhbir Badal himself brought goons along to create terror in the area. Sukhbir Badal is used to adopting this tactic in Jalalabad. He has raised allegations on my son Jatin as well that he opened fire. However, I challenge them to show even a single photo in which my son is holding any weapon. Rather their men were opening fire in the open and even their men were doing stone pelting on the vehicles and later were narrating a different story. Videos will show the entire story and even police investigation will reveal who is speaking the truth. Our workers were also in the complex to get their nominations filed in a peaceful manner and we will continue to stay peaceful.”
Urban local bodies polls are scheduled to be held in 118 local bodies of Punjab including 8 municipal corporations on February 14 and Wednesday is the last day of filing nomination papers. Jalalabad has elections for 17 wards and on Tuesday, 17 candidates of SAD, 16 of AAP and 6 of Congress filed nomination papers. Jalalabad happens to be an important area as Sukhbir Badal himself remained MLA of this constituency from 2009-2019. He resigned from Vidhan Sabha to contest Lok Sabha elections in 2019 and during the bypoll, Congress’s Raminder Singh Awla won the seat. Sukhbir is now MP of Ferozepur, and Jalalabad comes under his parliamentary constituency.
Harjit Singh, SSP, Fazilka said, “Four persons (two each from both sides) have been injured and we have lodged FIR against unidentified persons on SAD’s complaint and we will further investigate in this case.”
SAD demands CM’s resignation
Meanwhile, SAD condemned the “murderous attack” on Akali workers and Badal by “police-backed Congress goons” at Jalalabad and demanded Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s resignation over the alleged breakdown in the law and order situation in the state. In a statement here, party spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema said, “It seems there was a premeditated attempt on the SAD president’s life and the Jalalabad police was complicit in this crime as it allowed attackers a free run.”
Alleging that the attack enjoyed state patronage, he also demanded a high-level judicial inquiry under the supervision of the chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Asserting that democracy was being “murdered” in the state under Amarinder Singh’s leadership with criminals ruling the roost, Cheema said the CM had lost the moral right to continue in his post. “He should put in his papers immediately,” the SAD leader asserted while accusing the chief minister of being directly responsible for disturbing the peace and communal harmony of the state.
BJP blames Amarinder
Condemning the “attack on Sukhbir Badal’s car”, state BJP president demanded that the culprits must be brought to book. He said the BJP was against the culture of violence and regretted that the party’s earlier warning against such incidents were ignored by the state government.
“Had the state government taken any deterrent steps when the BJP leaders and offices were being attacked, the law and order situation in the state would have been far better,” Sharma said in a statement.