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Punjab rocked by violent incidents: blame laid at Akali govt's feet

Rajeev Khanna | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:46 IST

The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) government stands in the dock over the spate of violence, both political and otherwise, that has been rocking Punjab over recent months. The trend shows all the symptoms of escalating ahead of the forthcoming assembly polls.

Escalating violence

After an assassination attempt, senior RSS functionary Brigadier (Retd) Jagdish Gagneja died a few days ago after battling for life almost a month after being shot in Jalandhar.

The state has also been rocked by the murder of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) worker Jagroop Singh. The police have booked Jagseer Singh Seera and 13 of his accomplices in the case. Jagroop was shot dead allegedly over a property dispute at Bhinder Kalan village. His nephew Pritpal Singh sustained injuries.

The instances of desecration of holy texts continues unabated and it was only last week that torn pages of holy texts of both Sikh and Hindu religion were found in Jalandhar.

Other than that, four members of a family allegedly committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance in Kishangarh near Jalandhar after being 'harassed' by a money lender.

Instances of gang wars have also been reported regularly over the last few months

The Congress party has also alleged assault on its workers participating in a motorcycle rally at Ajnala by Akali workers.

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The assault on a pregnant nurse allegedly by an Akali Sarpanch at Moga made headlines last week. Instances of gang wars have also been reported regularly over the last few months.

Religious and sectarian lines

The cycle of violence is continuing unabated and it is the SAD government that is being blamed across the board.

The spiraling religious violence that is marked by repeated instances of desecration of holy books - be it the Guru Granth Sahib or texts of other faiths - is being seen as a complete failure of law and order machinery as there have been almost no arrests. It all began with the first incident reported from Bargari last year, for which the culprits are yet to be nabbed.

The no. of instances where holy books have been desecrated is seen as a breakdown of law and order

Heads of religious sects have also been attacked. In May, a preacher named Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwale was shot at. Luckily, he escaped, but his aide Bhupinder Singh died in the attack on his cavalcade near Ludhiana that was carried out by around a dozen assailants near a 'chabeel' offering cold drink to passers by. He was fired upon when his car slowed and the assailants raised pro-Khalistan slogans.

Just a few days prior to that incident, Mata Chand Kaur, the 88-year-old wife of the late Satguru Jagjit Singh, the former head of Namdhari sect, was gunned down at Bhaini Sahib, the headquarters of Namdhari sect, near Ludhiana. The assailants in both these cases are yet to be nabbed.

'Regime of gangsters'

Observers say that the violence aimed at polarising society on religious and sectarian lines.

Former Director General of Police and a keen political analyst Shashikant told Catch sees turbulent times ahead. "I see an emergence of a regime of gangsters. Various political parties are interested in polarisation. Even in cases where killers are identified there are no arrests because of difference of opinion within the parties."

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He said that Punjab witnessed a similar situation during the militancy when there were three types of forces at work. The first were the ideologically driven militants, the second were gangsters and criminals who indulged in looting, arson and violence of all types in the garb of militants. The third were the elements who created mayhem under the patronage of security agencies.

"The forthcoming elections are going to be the worst till now. These will see the misutilisation or utilisation of money, power, drugs and muscle power," he added.

Blame games

The political parties in the state are upping their ante on the issue while indulging in blame games.

The Akalis, while trying to blame Pakistani agency ISI, for trying to disturb peace in the state, are also training their guns on the opponents. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal recently slammed the Congress for politicising sensitive issues concerning peace and communal harmony. He accused the party of escalating communal tension for its vested political interests.

Referring to the militancy in the state in 1980s, he accused the Congress of throwing dirty tantrums. They have also been hitting out at AAP for trying to draw political mileage out of such issues.

AAP has been attacking the Badal govt for it outright failure in providing security to the masses

The AAP leadership has been attacking the Badal government for it outright failure in providing security to the masses. Punjab co-incharge Jarnail Singh has said that the 'rule of lawlessness' has prevailed in Punjab and Akali workers are killing people without any fear. The police, instead of taking action against the culprits, are shielding them. The party has decided to organise 'Insaf March' across the state on the birth day of 'Shaheed-E-Azam' Bhagat Singh to highlight government failures on the law and order front.

Referring to the sacrilege of Sri Guru Granth Sahib at Bargari last year and continuing instances, Jarnail said, "Had the police arrested those responsible for sacrilege, nobody would have dared to commit the crime again."

Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh has been the most vocal in attacking Badal and his deputy Sukhbir Badal on the issue. He has held Badal squarely responsible for the prevailing scenario. He said, "The Badals have lost all the authority and it seems to be free for all."

Pointing to the police failure at arresting the assailants of Mata Chand Kaur and the attackers of Dhadrianwale, he underlined, "This is either a deliberate design or complete incompetence on part of the Akali government in the state."

With polls round the corner the state remains a tinderbox as instances of violence spiral by the day.

Edited by Aleesha Matharu

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First published: 27 September 2016, 7:31 IST