Officer's hand chopped off in attack, cops arrest 7 holed up in gurdwara
Chandigarh, Apr 12: An officer’s hand was chopped off with a sword and two other Punjab policemen injured Sunday when a group of Nihangs attacked them after being asked to show curfew passes at a vegetable market in Patiala district, police said.
Seven people, including five attackers, were arrested hours later after an exchange of fire at a gurdwara where the group fled after the 6.15 am incident in Sanaur town. One of the arrested men suffered gunshot wound, police said.
A mandi’ official was also hurt earlier. A video clip on social media appears to show Assistant Sub Inspector Harjeet Singh seeking help.
A man picks up the severed hand and gives it to the officer. He is then taken away from the scene on a two-wheeler. The ASI was rushed to Rajindra hospital nearby and then referred to PGIMER in Chandigarh where he was undergoing surgery, police said.
The other injuresd policemen include Sadar Patiala’s station house officer. With a lockdown in place to contain the spread of COVID-19, barricades were put up outside the wholesale market and entry restricted to those with curfew passes.
The Nihangs -- members of a Sikh sect whose adherents carry traditional arms and wear blue robes -- arrived in an SUV and were told to stop by 'mandi’ officials, police said "They were asked to show passes.
But they rammed the vehicle against the gate and the barricades," Patiala’s Senior Superintendent of Police Mandeep Singh Sidhu said.
The group then attacked the police personnel and fled to Gurdwara Khichri Sahib managed by them in Balbera village, around 25 km from Patiala city. In their operation, policemen led by Inspector General (Patiala Zone) Jatinder Singh Aaulakh stopped the movement of people a kilometer away from the gurdwara and surrounded it, police said.
Several policemen took positions in nearby fields. Special Operation Group SOG) of Punjab Police was involved.
Media was barred from going near the gurdwara. “Seven persons have been arrested,” Punjab Director General police Dinkar Gupta later told PTI.
Three pistols, petrol bombs, swords, sacks of poppy husk and LPG cylinders were recovered from gurdwara, the DGP said, adding that the searches were still on.
“We requested them through the public address system to surrender but they refused,” he said.
The Nihangs inside hurled abuses at the policemen Local people, including a sarpanch, also went inside to talk to them but they did not relent, police said. The Nihangs threatened to set fire to the cooking gas cylinders if police entered, said DGP.
The DGP said an exchange of fire also took place. Earlier Punjab's Special Chief Secretary K B S Sidhu said police acted in a respectful manner when they entered the gurdwara.
“The police party observed full Maryada while entering the Gurdwara premises. There were also women and children inside, who were unharmed, and have been left secure within the Gurdwara as before,” he tweeted.
Sidhu said five of the seven arrested men were a part of the gang that launched “an unprovoked murderous assault on a police party, with sharp-edged weapons”. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said he was proud of the police party at the mandi for professionally handling the situation.
In a tweet, the CM said he has given instructions to police to deal in the "strictest possible manner" with anyone breaking the law.
Earlier DGP Gupta tweeted that the injured ASI was undergoing surgery at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh
"In an unfortunate incident today morning, a group of Nihangs injured a few Police officers and a Mandi Board official at Sabzi Mandi, Patiala. ASI Harjeet Singh whose hand got cut-off has reached PGI Chandigarh," Gupta tweeted.
"I have spoken to Director PGI who has deputed top Plastic surgeons of PGI for surgery, which just started. The Nihang group will be arrested and further action taken soon," he said.
In another tweet, Gupta said, "Grateful to PGI for full support. Director PGI tells me that surgery has already started by 2 senior surgeons who will do their best. All of us praying to Waheguru for his full recovery!"