Wednesday, March 14, 2007

VHP men beaten up in Punjab, probe ordered


Posted online: Monday, March 12, 2007 at 0000 hrs IST


A day after four Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists were beaten up by a group of Christians led by a pastor at Gobindpura village near here, unrest continued with police resorting to cane-charging the protesting VHP activists which left a few injured. A magisterial inquiry was, later, ordered by Bathinda Deputy Commissioner Rahul Bhandari after the SSP’s recommendation.
After the cane-charge, agitated VHP activists raised slogans against the police and local administration, alleging a “partisan role”. They even went on to storm the Kotwali police station and were pacified only after Bathinda SSP Promod Ban personally came to the police station and assured appropriate action in the case.

Accusing DSP (City) Jatinder Singh Khaira and Kotwali Police Station SHO Gurjeet Singh Romana of bias, VHP activists demanded action against them.

“We were peacefully protesting and demanding that a case of treachery be registered against the group of Christians who attacked our activists yesterday and raised anti-national slogans after that,” VHP Punjab secretary Sukhpal Singh Sran, whose turban fell off in the melee, said.

“DSP Khaira abused us and said aaye vadde deshbhagat (Do you consider yourself patriots?) in a teasing tone, before we were cane charged,” Sran alleged.

SSP Ban said SHO Romana had been sent to Police Lines. He said DSP Khaira had also been stripped of the charge of Kotwali police station to allow the inquiry to be conducted in a fair manner.

According to police, the activists, who were more than 20 in number, were trying to forcibly barge into the house of Amit Sidhu, a pastor residing in Partap Nagar, and started pelting stones at his house. Police claimed that the cops had been posted outside the houses of some pastors, who the police feared could be attacked. SHO Romana tried to push a couple of activists away, who retaliated in protest. This led to the cane charge, sources said.

“It was necessary at that time to disperse the crowd,” Ban said and added, “Besides, it was a mild cane charge”. The SSP said no case could be registered till the magisterial inquiry is completed.

Three arrested

Police on Sunday arrested Pastor Kulwant Rai, Harphul Singh and Chhota Singh, named in a case registered under Sections 307, 325, 323, 341, 427, 148 and 149 of the IPC for the attack on VHP activists at Gobindpura village. Three more persons, namely Bhola Singh, Prem Masih and Michael, are yet to be arrested.

The four VHP activists, along with a few other activists, were returning from Gobindpura village after “foiling” an attempt by a pastor to “convert” some families into Christianity, when they were allegedly attacked with swords and other weapons.

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