A protest demonstration was held today outside Shri Kali Devi Temple in Patiala, where pro-Khalistan Sikhs had launched an attack on Hindus a day ago, after which the administration imposed a curfew in the area and temporarily shut down mobile internet services and arrested mostly Hindus including the Punjab unit leader of Shiv Sena, Harish Singla, whom the state president of the party subsequently expelled.
Meanwhile, Hindu organisations have given the call for a Patiala Bandh and are demanding the arrest of “Khalistani supporters” after clashes broke out in the city over a “Khalistan Murdabad March” yesterday. In the wake of the Patiala bandh call, Patiala Senior Superintendent of Police Nanak Singh met with Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Suraksha Samiti head Giri Ji Mahraj in his office.
Yograj Sharma, the president of the Shiv Sena Hindustan, the group leading the protest, said, “The Hindus of Punjab are ready to protest. The administration should not underestimate us on the basis of the number of people gathered here.”
The state government suspended mobile internet services today on the directions of chief minister Bhagwant Mann who also ordered the transfer of three senior police officials.
Authorities imposed a curfew in the district yesterday till 6 AM today after clashes broke out near the Kali Devi Temple here last afternoon as Sikhs brandished swords at Hindus who retaliated by pelting stones at the Sikhs. Police personnel were deployed to bring under control the situation. Two policemen were among those injured.
This morning, the Punjab government had temporarily suspended mobile internet services from 9:30 AM to 6 PM in the city.
Patiala Deputy Commissioner Sakshi Sawhney said one person has been arrested with regard to the clashes. She said, “FIRs have been lodged and raids are underway. We appeal to the public to maintain peace. From 9.30 am to 6 pm today, mobile internet services will remain temporarily suspended as a step of abundant caution by the government. One person has been arrested.”
Patiala’s Senior Superintendent of Police Nanak Singh told reporters that the police and administration will share factual information and no misinformation should be believed in the said incident.
Chief Minister Mann has ordered an investigation into the clash and said that strict action will be taken against those behind the violence.
Hindus’ account of Patiala incident that mainstream media did not report
Meanwhile, as the nation wondered why the Shiv Sena took action against its own leader, Mahant Ravi Kumar Muni of Patiala’s Kali Mata Mandir said the Hindus were not against Singla, but the Shiv Sena leader could have staged the protest against Khalistanis in a manner that would not lead to the Sikh attack on the Kali Mata temple.
“This bandh has been called to demand action against the elements who carried out attacks on the Kali temple,” said the mahant.
“Harish Singla is from Patiala; he is one of our own. However, it is dangerous to blame the entire community for the actions of one person. Harish Singla was not right, but those who attacked the temple are also guilty. The temple did not speak about anybody, but why was the temple attacked?” the mahant told OpIndia.
The president of Hindu Raksha Samiti, Rajesh Kehar said, “This bandh is not against Harish Singla, but because of the attack on the temple by Khalistan supporters. All Hindu organisations of Patiala have taken this decision together.”
Kehar described the sequence of events that resulted in the attacks on the temple. He said the protest march was organised by Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) at an Arya Samaj centre, but the aftermath was felt by the Kali Mata temple, far away from where the anti-Khalistani march took place.
Kehar said that the attacks on the temple were a well-hatched conspiracy as 90% of the attackers were called from outside Patiala.
Kehar has lodged an FIR against the attacks in the Patiala police station that said that the pro-Khalistani mob had assembled outside around noon on 29 April, and a group of 40-50 attackers started raising slogans of Khalistan zindabad outside the temple and pelted stones.
“I was in my office; I heard the slogans of Khalistan Zindabad. I ran outside, where I saw some Nihang Sikhs pelting stones and attacking the temple building and the Langar Bhawan. They had sticks and other weapons. They were raising anti-Hindu slogans,” Rajesh Kehar said.
Describing the complaint, Kehar said, “I alerted the temple authorities and security and got the gates closed immediately. Within minutes the attackers attacked the temple building, causing some damage. They also attacked the temple shops located outside the temple gate. They damaged shops numbered 9 to 12 and stole about Rs 25,000-30,000 from the shops. Police were also present at the spot and trying to stop the attackers.”
A video of the incident surfaced on social media, which shows that the Khalistani mob had attacked the temple and looted shops as they brandished swords and sticks. The police officers can be seen trying to stop these attackers, but the Khalistani Sikhs continue to attack the shops around the Kali temple.