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Patiala clashes: 3 senior police officers shunted out, 3 accused arrested

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Patiala, Apr 30: The Punjab government on Saturday shunted out three senior police officers including an inspector general even as Patiala was limping back to normalcy with security personnel keeping a tight vigil a day after clashes between two groups over an anti-Khalistan march. The police booked 25 accused by name so far in six FIRs registered in connection with Friday's incident which left four persons injured.

Patiala clashes: 3 senior police officers shunted out, 3 accused arrested

Mobile internet and SMS services were suspended from 9.30 am by the state's home affairs and justice department till 4 pm. The AAP government in the state transferred Inspector General of Police (Patiala Range) Rakesh Agrawal, Patiala Senior Superintendent of Police Nanak Singh and the Patiala superintendent of police with immediate effect. A spokesperson of the Chief Minister's Office said Mukhwinder Singh Chhina was appointed as the new IG-Patiala while Deepak Parik will be the new Patiala SSP. Wazir Singh has been appointed as the new superintendent of police of Patiala.

Talking to reporters here after taking charge, Chhina said Barjinder Singh Parwana, a resident of Rajpura, is the main accused and one of the masterminds of the incident. "He is yet to be arrested. Several police teams have been formed to nab him," he said. He said out of total 25 accused, three have been arrested -- Harish Singla, Daljeet Singh and Kuldeep Singh. "Punjab Police will come down very heavily whoever tries to disturb peace and communal harmony," said Chhina, flanked by Patiala Deputy Commissioner Sakshi Sawhney. Police and district administration authorities on Saturday claimed that the situation is under control and peaceful in the city.

Heavy police security was deployed at the site of the clashes outside the Kali Mata temple here. Various Hindu groups had given a call for a bandh in protest against Friday's incident. Several markets in Patiala city remained shut on Saturday. Representatives of some Hindu groups lifted their 'dharna' outside the temple and deferred their proposed protest march after police and district administration assured them of action within two days against those who were behind the disturbance and violence on Friday.

The groups had clashed over the anti-Khalistan march, hurling stones at each other and brandishing swords. Police had to fire in the air to bring the situation under control. Harish Singla, working president of a group called "Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) and who organised the march, was sent to two-day police remand by a court here.

Singla was arrested on Friday after he was booked under various sections including 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation) of the IPC. This is the first major law and order incident in the state under the Bhagwant Mann-led state government. Opposition parties had attacked the AAP-led regime, alleging that the law and order in the state had collapsed.

Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had ordered a probe into the clashes and had said that not a single culprit will be spared. A meeting of the district level peace committee was also held on Saturday here in which local MLAs, senior police officials and representatives of the religious bodies appealed to people to maintain peace and harmony. Talking to the media earlier, Patiala Deputy Commissioner Sawhney said the situation is calm and peaceful. To a question on whether one person received bullet injury in Friday's incident, he said a bullet had hit a person but it was yet not clear how it hit him.

Videos are being examined..the patient is stable, said the DC. Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema appealed to people to maintain peace and harmony and also said that whosoever was behind the Friday incident will not be spared. "CM Mann saab himself is monitoring the situation," he further said. Meanwhile, Punjab BJP leaders led by its state unit chief Ashwani Sharma on Saturday paid obeisance at Kali Mata temple and appealed to the people to maintain peace and harmony Sharma demanded an independent probe into the incident and strict action against those who were behind this incident. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief spokesperson Malwinder Singh Kang on Saturday said some divisive forces were trying to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in Punjab.

Divisive forces which thrive in destruction and chaos are trying to vitiate the peace and social harmony in Punjab. Punjab is known for resilience and Universal brotherhood will not allow such nefarious Designs to succeed. Every step in the book will be taken to nail the culprits, said Kang in a tweet. PTI

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