patiala: Patiala clashes: 3 senior police officers shunted out, mobile internet services suspended in district


The Punjab government on Saturday shunted out three senior police officials, including an inspector general, and suspended mobile internet and SMS services in Patiala district, a day after clashes between two groups over an anti-Khalistan march left four people injured.

The AAP government in the state transferred the inspector general of police (IG) Patiala Range, the Patiala senior superintendent of police and the Patiala superintendent of police with immediate effect.

A spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office said Mukhwinder Singh Chinna has been 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.

Chinna replaces Rakesh Agrawal as IG (Patiala Range) while Parik takes over the post of SSP-Patiala from Nanak Singh.

Police and district administration authorities on Saturday claimed that the situation is under control and peaceful in the city.

Heavy police security has been deployed at the site of the clashes outside the Kali Mata temple here.

Various Hindu outfits had given a call for a bandh in protest against the Friday incident. Several markets in Patiala city remained shut on Saturday.

Representatives of some Hindu outfits 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.

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.

The order to suspend mobile internet and SMS services, except voice calls, was issued by the state’s home affairs and justice department.

“In exercise of power conferred upon me by virtue of temporary suspension of telecom services (public emergency or public safety) rules, 2017, I Anurag Verma, principal secretary, home affairs and justice, do here by order suspension of the mobile internet services (2G/3G/45/CDMA), all SMS services and all dongle services etc provided on mobile networks except voice calls in the territorial jurisdiction of the district of Patiala from 9:30 am to 6 pm on April 30,” said the government order.

“And, where there is an imminent danger of loss of life and or damage to public/ private property, and widespread disturbances of public tranquillity and communal harmony, as a result of inflammatory material and false rumours which are being/could be transmitted/ circulated to the public through social media/ messaging services on mobile internet services, all SMS services and dongle services,” it said.

To thwart designs and activities of “anti-national and anti-social groups or elements”, maintain peace and communal harmony and to prevent loss of life or damage to public or private property, the order said, it has become necessary to take necessary steps and measures to maintain law and order due to “unavoidable circumstances” in Patiala district in public interest.

Describing the measures, it said that this is being done “by stopping the spread of misinformation and rumours, through various social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter on mobile phones and SMS”.

It was also mentioned in the order that the Patiala deputy commissioner and SSP have hinted towards a situation where data services could be grossly misused by certain unscrupulous elements.

Talking to the media, Patiala Deputy Commissioner Sakshi Sawhney said the situation is calm and peaceful.

“We have deployed the police force here. The situation is peaceful right now and the situation is under control. We are constantly monitoring the situation,” Sawhney said.

On suspension of mobile internet services, the official said this step was taken to prevent any rumour mongering but appealed to people not to panic.

To a question on whether one person received bullet injury in the Friday incident, Sawhney 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.

Inspector General (Patiala Range) Rakesh Agrawal, who has now been transferred, said FIRs have been lodged in the matter and Harish Singla, working president of a group called “Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray)” has been arrested.

He said action will be taken against those whosoever is behind this incident. “The situation is under control,” said Agrawal.

Asked on the alleged failure of the administration and police in preventing the clashes, Agrawal said it will be examined but added that the police force did some good work.

“The clash could have been bigger and it (clash) started due to some rumour and it was controlled as well,” said Agrawal.

To a question on transfer of police officers, Agrawal said it is the prerogative of the government.

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.

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