Violence spreads in Punjab, Haryana; two dead

Two persons were killed and several injured as violence triggered by the killing of a Dera leader in Vienna engulfed Punjab and parts of Haryana on Monday.

Jalandhar/Chandigarh, May 25: Two persons were
killed and several injured as violence triggered by the
killing of a Dera leader in Vienna engulfed Punjab and parts of Haryana
where protestors set afire train coaches, buses and clashed
with police prompting authorities to impose curfew in four
cities and calling out the Army in Jalandhar and Phagwara.

Curfew was imposed in Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Phagwara
and Hoshiarpur following largescale violence and damage to
government and private property, including cars parked in
police stations.

One person was killed and four others were injured as
Army personnel opened fire in Lambra village, 30 kms from
Jalandhar, and another person was killed after the police
opened fire on protesters at Jalandhar Cantt railway station.

Shops and commercial establishments were closed
following a Punjab bandh call given by local units of the Dera
Sachkhand Ballan whose leaders were attacked in Vienna. The
Shiromani Akali Dal also gave a bandh call.

Road and railway traffic was disrupted at several
places in the state even as protestors damaged trains, buses
and other vehicles at various places including Jalandhar,
Phagwara, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahar, Banga, Ludhiana and Moga.

The Delhi-Lahore bus service was stopped at Ludhiana
as a precautionary measure.

Protestors also blocked the Ambala-Delhi National
Highway for three hours and damaged buses in Ambala.

Condemning the killing of the Dera leader, Punjab
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal appealed for calm and asked
people not to be provoked.

In Lambra, protestors attacked the convoy of IG
(zonal) Sanjeev Kalra and set afire the vehicle of SP
(city-II) Sarabjeet Singh in the village. Security men
guarding Kalra opened 20 rounds of fire, police said.

In Jalandhar, four bogies of the Jammu Kanyakumari
Himsagar Express were set on fire after the passengers
were asked to alight by the arsonists.

The protestors set afire the engine of the Sonepur
Jammu 2491 Up Express in Phagwara after forcing the driver
Anant Singh to come out by placing a sword on his temple. The
engine was detached from the train in time to prevent the fire
from spreading to the coaches.

A Phagwara report said a mob pelted stones at BSF
personnel at a number of places after the force was deployed
to check violence.

Traffic on various roads, including the Delhi-Ambala,
Jalandhar-Jammu and Jalandhar-Chandigarh National Highways
besides various state highways has been badly affected.

Around 20 buses and other vehicles, including
motorcycles, were damaged at various places including Patiala,
Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, and Phagwara in
Punjab and Ambala in Haryana.

On the Jalandhar-Delhi national highway, protestors
armed with lathis and swords damaged the engine of a train
bound for Jammu besides attacking shops.

A flag march was also conducted in disturbed areas of
Jalandhar where all commercial establishments and educational
institutions remained closed in the wake of curfew.

Protestors also set afire four bogies of the
Jammu-Kanyakumari express in Jalandhar after asking passengers
to disembark, officials said.

Protesters also blocked rail traffic at Ram Nagar
railway crossing in Jalandhar. The railway authorities, as a
precautionary measure, stopped the trains at several points to
avoid any untoward incident.

A mob attacked Maqsudan police station in Jalandhar
district and burnt several vehicles parked in the premises
forcing policemen to resort to baton-charge the agitators.

Curfew was defied by protestors at many places and
vehicles moving towards Amritsar, Jammu and Delhi on the
national highway were attacked by the protestors.

A number of stranded people had to knock at the doors
of local residents for shelter as they could not carry on
their journey and it was unsafe to stand on the road.

Photojournalists were also attacked by the protestors
who raised slogans against the Chief Minister.

According to a report from Ludhiana, Dera followers
and Dalit protestors set fire a bus and a car at GT Road
bypass. They also sat on dharna for more than two hours.

Cops were attacked by a mob in Phillaur and a Sub
Divisional Magistrate and Deputy Superintendent of Police
(DSP) were gheraoed by the protesters.

A complete bandh was observed at Nurmahal where a
by-poll is slated for May 28

Sect leader Sant Rama Nand, 57, the second-in-command, died in a hospital in the Austrian capital Vienna, following an armed attack involving rival Sikh groups at a gurdwara the previous day. The attack also left around 30 people injured.

The condition of the sect head Sant Niranjan Dass, 68, who was the second guest guru speaking at the Vienna gurdwara, was stable after undergoing emergency surgery, doctors there said.

The violence that had begun with news of the attack Sunday reignited with Sant Rama Nand`s death.

Bureau Report

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