Lathicharge in Ambala, 4 policemen among 10 injured

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Ambala, May 22: Ten people, including four policemen, were injured when Sikh activists clashed with the police who lathicharged at the demonstrators trying to take out a procession in protest against the Dera Sacha Sauda even as prohibitory orders were in force in the city.

Superintendent of Police Amitabh Dhillon was among the four policemen injured when the demonstrators pelted them with stones as the Police resorted to lathi charge near the Badshahi Bagh Gurudwara in the city.

The clash occurred when the Sikh demonstrators, led by Shiromani Akali Dal leaders S S Kandhari and Sukhdev Singh Gobindgarh, insisted on taking out a procession violating Section 144 despite prior assurance to the administration not to do so.

The SP prevented them to take out the procession with swords and sticks, saying it could disturb the law and order in the town.

The police resorted to lathicharge when despite requests made by the SP, the demonstrators did not relent and proceeded ahead carrying the effigy of Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim.

The protesters then started hurling stones and brickbats at the police from within the gurdwara.

As many as ten people, including four policemen, were injured in the clash.

Deputy Commissioner R P Bhardwaj said the situation was under control in Ambala Cantonment and Naraingarh where measures had been taken to maintain law and order. He said that the Dera followers remained peaceful despite provocations.

There was no response to the bandh call and shops and business establishments remained open. Educational institutions and banks functioned normally.

Elaborate security arrange ments have been made to maintain peace and law and order in the state and security forces were patrolling different areas. Their deployment was heavy in Bathinda, Moga, Muktsar and other areas in the Malwa belt which has a sizeable number of Sacha Sauda supporters. The 'bandh' was total in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Bathinda, Patiala, Moga and some other districts.

All shops and other business establishements, educational institutions remained closed. The State Government had ordered the closure of all aducational institutions yesterday.

Both private and public transport remained off the roads and attendence in offices was thin. The supplies of fruit, vegetables and milk from rural areas could not reach the major cities and towns due to the 'bandh'.

However, essential services fucntioned normally in most parts of the state and medical shops were open. Except four DMU trains cancelled on the Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur section, trains were running normally in the state.

All 'Sacha Sauda' centers (deras) in Punjab, including the biggest at Salabatpura, have been cordoned off by the security forces as a preventive measure. The security around major historical gurdwaras particularly the Golden Temple and Takht Damdama Sahid at Talwandi Sabo, has been tightened.

The Punjab government has already sealed its borders with Haryana and imposed prohibitory orders under section 144 throughout the state. The government had made a few preventive arrests yesterday.

A complete bandhd was observed in Sirsa town of haryana. Hundreds of devotees took out a peace march there, pleading with people to support the bandh. All shops were closed in Sirsa town and other areas of the district.


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