edited by: Oindrila Mukherjee
Last Update: February 24, 2023, 20:58 IST
Waris Punjab Dey founder Amritpal Singh with his supporters after the court ordered the release of his colleague Lovepreet Toofan, at Ajnala near Amritsar on Friday. (Image: PTI)
Supporters of radical preacher Amritpal Singh on Thursday attacked the Ajnala police station and forced the administration to concede their demand for the release of his aide Lovepreet Singh.
The alleged inaction of the Punjab Police in two major law and order incidents in less than a month has fueled opposition allegations against the Bhagwant Mann-led government of “encouraging” radical elements in the state.
The so-called supporters of radical preacher Amritpal Singh, who openly advocated Khalistan, attacked the Ajnala police station on Thursday. They ransacked and forced the administration to accept their demand for the release of Amritpal’s associate Lovepreet Singh, who was accused in a kidnapping case. Preachers are protesting against the FIR against Lovepreet.
The protesters, brandishing swords and weapons, targeted the police station, injuring half a dozen policemen, including a superintendent of police. Once again, the Punjab Police was accused of being a mute spectator to a situation involving protesters.
Earlier, during a protest for the release of Sikh prisoners, members of the Qaumi Insaf Morcha attacked the Chandigarh police as they were marching towards the border with the police from the Punjab side.
The opposition is furious and has claimed that the recent incidents are fueling extremist sentiments in the state. “It is not only a complete collapse of the law and order situation in Punjab, but it is much more serious than that. The incident has serious security implications for the state and the country, and there was a particular pattern in these incidents which does not bode well for national security,” said former chief minister and BJP leader Captain Amarinder Singh.
According to Amarinder, while Pakistan was waiting to instigate incidents and take advantage of them, questions were being raised about the capability of the state government.
BJP national spokesperson RP Singh compared the incident to an incident in 1981. Referring to the release of militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, posting a newspaper cutting of that time, he tweeted, “Is history repeating itself?”
It is a matter of embarrassment for the police that before the attack in Ajnala, the head of ‘Waris Punjab De’ organization Amritpal had issued an “ultimatum” for the release of his supporters.
Hit by the opposition, the state government tried damage control. Describing the Ajnala incident as unfortunate, Cabinet Minister Kuldeep Dhaliwal said that the people of Punjab have faith in Mann. “The police showed a very mature response. The protestors had brought the Guru Granth Sahib and any violent action could have worsened the situation. Dhaliwal said, he handled the situation in a professional manner.
However, the opposition was unrelenting in its criticism. “If radicals are attacking a police station, barely a few kilometers from the international border, what kind of response is it? The state is in unsafe hands,” said Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia.
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