A policeman’s hand was severed and two of his colleagues were injured after a group of Nihangs (Sikhs armed with traditional weapons) attacked them at Sanaur vegetable market in Punjab’s Patiala district on Sunday, the police said. Eight Nihangs were arrested after the Gurudwara Khicri Sahab — where they had fled after the attack — was surrounded by the police. A Nihang was injured in the cross-firing at the Gurudwara has been shifted to hospital.
The group was travelling in a vehicle when the police stopped them near a vegetable market by Mandi board officials. An argument erupted between them after the Nihangs failed to show them curfew passes.
“They were asked to show (curfew) passes. But they crashed the vehicle against the gate and barricades put up there,” Senior Superintendent of Police, Patiala, Mandeep Singh Sidhu said, reported news agency PTI.
“An ASI’s (Assistant Sub Inspector) hand was chopped off by a sword. A Station House Officer of Sadar Patiala sustained an injury on his elbow and another official suffered an injury on his arm in the attack,” Sidhu said.
A mandi board official was also injured. The ASI was rushed to the Rajindra hospital where from he was referred to PGIMER in Chandigarh.
News agency PTI reported that in their showdown with the armed Nihangs, policemen led by Inspector General (Patiala Zone) Jatinder Singh Aaulakh barred the movement of people a kilometer away from the gurdwara and surrounded it, police said.
It is reported that several policemen took positions in nearby fields. Special Operation Group SOG) of Punjab Police was also involved in the operation.
Three pistols, petrol bombs, swords, sacks of poppy husk and LPG cylinders were recovered from gurdwara, a senior police official told PTI, adding that the searches were still on.
“We requested them through the public address system to surrender but they refused,” he said. Local people, including a sarpanch, also went inside to talk to them but they did not relent, authorities were quoted as saying.
The Nihangs threatened to set fire to the cooking gas cylinders if police entered, stated the official. The police also informed that an exchange of fire also took place in the incident.
The attack comes at a time when the 21-day lockdown in the state has been extended until May 1. With 11 deaths due to the COVID-19, Punjab has recorded a total of 1 coronavirus cases, as per data provided by the Health Ministry. Before this, doctors were attacked in Karnataka, Telangana, Gujarat among other places.
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