Contrary to what is being reported by a large section of the media from Patiala today, Khalistanis had first surfaced at vantage points in the city, blocking roads and raising separatist slogans after which the faction of Shiv Sena that does not owe its allegiance to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray challenged the Sikhs near the Kali Mata temple.
The mainstream media, however, claims that the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) led by their working president Harish Singla was marching past the area without police permission, raising slogans against the Khalistanis, which led to the clash between the two groups.
While the media heard the Shiv Sena (BT) activists chanting “Khalistan murdabad”, all videos of the confrontation on Twitter show Khalistanis wielding swords and shouting “Raj karega Khalsa” and “Khalistan zindabad”.
Some videos show people arguing with police personnel in the midst of the chaos.
Yet another video shows a man throwing stones from atop a Langar Bhawan.
Responding to the situation, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said he had spoken to the director-general of police (DGP) who told reportedly him that peace had been restored in the area.
“The incident of clashes in Patiala are deeply unfortunate. I spoke with the DGP, peace has been restored in the area. We are closely monitoring the situation and will not let anyone create disturbance in the State. Punjab’s peace and harmony is of utmost importance,” Bhagwant Mann said.
“Seeing the problem of law and order here, police have been deployed. We are speaking with Punjab Shiv Sena chief Harish Singla as they don’t have any permission for the march,” a senior police official told news agency ANI.
When asked to comment on the incident, Patiala Inspector General of Police Rakesh Agarwal said the incident took place as “some mischievous elements had spread some rumours. We have controlled the situation. We are conducting a flag march in Patiala city”.
“We have called force from outside. A Peace committee meeting has been called by the Deputy Commissioner,” he said, adding restoring peace in the area was their priority.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition Pratap Singh Bajwa took to Twitter to call out “complete anarchy in the state”. “Disturbing visuals from Patiala. It’s high time that Punjab CM gets his house in order. Law & order has collapsed in past one month with one incident after the other taking place in state. CM should immediately visit Patiala with DGP Punjab,” he said in a tweet.
INC’s on television that there had never been communal tension in Punjab and it was the government’s responsibility to maintain peace. “When partition took place, the worst impacted state was Punjab. Punjab paid a heavy price so it is incumbent for any government to make sure peace prevails,” he said.
AAP MLA Harpal Singh Cheema strongly condemned the incident and appealed all sections of the society “to follow the path of peace and humanity.”
AAP’s Raghav Chadha said, “this unfortunate clash is not between two communities but between two political parties, the Shiv Sena and the SAD.” He said, “Anti-social elements of these parties led to the clashes and the Punjab police acted swiftly and strict action will be taken against those found guilty.” “AAP govt under Maan will take action against whoever is responsible,” he said.
He further alleged that the AAP was working for the development of Punjab but “some elements are trying to derail” the efforts.
Patiala Deputy Commissioner Sakshi Sawhney called for peace and urged people “to not fall prey to unsubstantiated news”.
“The district administration appeals to all brothers and sisters of Patiala and Punjab to continue to maintain peace and brotherhood,” Sawhney said.
“The present situation is under control and is being continuously monitored. All measures are being taken to ensure peace and harmony,” the deputy commissioner said.
“All are requested to not fall prey to unsubstantiated news/ social media forwards and return to their respective homes, places of stay,” Sawhney said.
Calling for dialogue between the two groups to solve the dispute, the officer said, “Peace and harmony are central to all our religions and their basic ethos. Even if there is any dispute or misunderstanding, it is important to resolve it by dialogue.