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Firing in Vienna,fires in Punjab

Two persons were killed and more than a dozen injured in violence across Punjab and parts of Haryana after Sant Ramanand of Dera Sachkhand,injured in an attack in Vienna,died in hospital.

Written by Express News Service | Jalandhar |
May 25, 2009 8:53:49 am

Two persons were killed and more than a dozen injured in violence across Punjab and parts of Haryana on Monday after Sant Ramanand of Dera Sachkhand,injured in an attack in Vienna on Sunday,died in hospital. Angry Dera followers took to the streets,torching at least 11 train coaches and an engine,stoning buses,blocking traffic and clashing with police at several places.

The Army was called out in in Jalandhar,Phagwara and Hoshiarpur — curfew was imposed in the three cities and in Ludhiana — and placed on standby elsewhere. Cable operators were told to stop telecast of channels beaming pictures of the violence in Jalandhar.

Firing was reported from several places in Punjab as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal appealed for peace. Badal said he had asked External Affairs Minister S M Krishna to take up the matter with his counterpart in Austria and make arrangements for bringing back the body of Sant Ramanand.

In Vienna,police spokesman Michael Takacs said the Sunday attack,which left 16 people seriously wounded,“had clearly been planned”. Six of the attackers,who were later

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apprehended and roughed up by Dera followers,were also in hospital. Police did not rule out the possibility of more arrests. Dera head Sant Niranjan Dass is among the seriously injured.

Seth Satpaul Mal of the Dera urged followers not to resort to violence as senior Punjab Police officials met the Dera management.

In Lambra village in Jalandhar,a 500-strong mob tried to burn the police station and gheraoed securitymen who later opened fire,killing one person and wounding another. A gunman of IG (Jalandhar) Sanjiv Kalra was also injured in the incident.

At the Jalandhar Cantonment railway station,GRP personnel opened fire to scatter a mob that torched three coaches of the Jammu Tawi Express. Firing was also reported from Chugutti Chowk,Rehru Chowk,Phillaur and Nadiala bypass.

In Phillaur,protesters gheraoed the vehicle of the SHO and a bus of Punjab Police commandos on the National Highway and attempted to snatch their weapons. Ten people were injured when the commandos opened fire and one of them,Rajinder Singh of Ramgarh,later died.

Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner R K Chaudhary was stopped by a mob near the Vidhipur railway crossing on the road to Phagwara from Kartarpur. The mob attacked his gunmen and three of them were injured.

In Maqsudan,a mob entered a police station,burnt a Tata Sumo,a motorcycle and damaged parked vehicles. Buses were damaged at the Patiala bus stand and nearly two dozen vehicles were set ablaze.

The Chandigarh-Jalandhar highway was blocked at Banga by protesters. Nearly six petrol pumps and a Hyundai showroom on GT Road were ransacked and vehicles damaged. In Ambala,buses were damaged by mobs who also blocked the Ambala-Delhi National Highway for three hours.

All trains on the Ambala-Amritsar section have been cancelled,including the Shatabdis. The Delhi-Lahore bus and Lahore-Delhi bus were stopped briefly and diverted from Ludhiana and Amritsar via Moga and Sultanpur Lodhi.

The Election Commission,on a report from the Jalandhar DC,postponed the Nurmahal by-election,scheduled for May 28.

The Punjab Technical University postponed two examinations for the next semester. PTU Registrar Sarojini Gautam Sharda said examinations scheduled for May 26-27 were being postponed but there was no change in the rest of the schedule.

In New Delhi,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was deeply distressed over the outbreak of violence in Punjab. “Whatever the provocation,it is important to maintain peace and harmony among different sections of the people,” he said in an appeal to the people.

Describing the killing of Sant Ramanand as “most painful”,Chief Minister Badal said the incident was “the handiwork of those who always on the lookout for an excuse to create unrest” in Punjab. He urged all political parties to join hands to maintain peace and order and not try to gain any political mileage out of this incident.

Punjab DGP K K Attri told reporters: “We got 14 companies of paramilitary forces from the Centre and 40 companies were arranged by the state police.” He said the state had sought 11 more companies of paramilitary forces to deal with the situation.

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