Punjab orders judicial probe into desecration as two killed in clash (Roundup)

Chandigarh, Oct 14 (IANS) The Punjab government on Wednesday ordered a probe by a high court judge into desecration of Guru Granth Sahib, as a clash between Sikh protestors and police over the issue left two people dead and many others injured in Kotkapura area of Faridkot district.

Sources said police and Sikh protestors exchanged gunfire in Behbal Kalan area near Kotkapura, 230 km from here, leading to the death of two people and injuries to nearly 70 others in the wake of protest over the desecration of the Sikh holy book.

Police used batons and water cannons and even fired in the air to disperse hundreds of protestors who hurled bricks, stones and other things at them. Most of the injured included protestors and around 30 police officials. They were rushed to hospitals.

The Sikh protestors were up in arms against the desecration of a ‘bir’ (holy book) in Bargari village, 15 km from Kotkapura.

Tension mounted in Kotkapura area on Monday after over 100 pages of the Sikh holy book were found scattered in a street near a gurdwara. The holy book was stolen from a gurdwara in June.

Following Wednesday’s violence, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in the evening ordered the inquiry by a high court judge to probe the desecration and the incidents of violence in its aftermath.

Condemning the incident and the violence, Badal said “exemplary punishment would be gien to the perpetrators of this dastardly act”.

In a statement issued here, Badal said: “The desecration of Sri Guru Granth Sahib is a deep-rooted conspiracy aimed at inciting communal tension and destabilising the hard-won peace in Punjab. I appeal to the people to be vigilant against such elements and keep calm despite grave provocation.”

Badal directed Punjab Police chief Sumedh Singh Saini to constitute a special investigation team under additional director general of police (crime) I.P.S. Sahota and two deputy inspector generals R.S. Khattra and Amar Singh Chahal to track down the culprits.

The chief minister urged the people to guard against canards and false propaganda spread by anti-social elements through the social media. He said this was aimed at vitiating the congenial atmosphere and divide society on sectarian lines in Punjab.

Sikh protestors clashed with police in Buttar Kalan village of Moga district on Tuesday, leaving many injured. Nearly 200 protestors were rounded up in Kotkapura on Tuesday but were released later.

Congress Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha and former chief minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday strongly condemned the deaths of two people in alleged police firing near Kotkapura.

“Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has virtually lost control over things and the state is drifting towards anarchy,” Amarinder said.

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