Nihangs chop off cop’s hand in Patiala, 11 held

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Chandigarh, April 12 (IANS) An Assistant Sub-Inspector’s (ASI) hand was chopped off and six others were injured in clashes between the police and the Nihang Sikhs in Patiala on Sunday.

Eleven people, including a woman, were arrested after several hours of stand-off and many rounds of talks between the police officials and Nihang Dera head Baba Balwinder Singh, asking them to surrender.
It all started with a group of five armed Nihangs, who were travelling in a vehicle, were stopped at a vegetable market and were asked to show their curfew passes.
“This angered them and they attacked the police personnel and government employees with sharp-edged weapons,” a police official told IANS.
A video of the crime, that has gone viral, one can see Nihangs breaking barricades and attacking policemen. The chopping off of hands of ASI Harjit Singh’s can also be seen.
After the crime, the Nihangs fled. They were arrested from the Nihang Dera Complex that also houses Khichdi Sahib Gurdwara after a stand-off with the police party, led by Inspector General Jatinder Aulakh and Senior Superintendent of Police Mandeep Sidhu.
One Nihang, Nirbhav Singh, was also injured, the police said.
According to Director General of Police (DGP) Dinkar Gupta, Baba Balwinder Singh, the Nihang head, was the main perpetrator of attack. He had come to the market with four others in a Tata Zenon vehicle.
Condemning the attack, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said anyone violating the curfew, imposed since March 23 to check spread of Covid-19 pandemic, would be strictly dealt with.
The police personnel were risking their lives to save the people of Punjab, he said and added. any attack on them would not be tolerated. He asked the DGP to come down heavily on those trying to disturb the law and order.
The DGP said a cache of weapons, ‘barchhe’ and ‘kirpans’, some used cartridges, two petrol bombs and LPG cylinders, five bags of poppy husk and other drugs and Rs 39 lakh in cash were seized. Some bottles with chemical substances were also found at the premises, he added.
ASI Harjit Singh was undergoing a plastic surgery at the PGI, Chandigarh, for suturing back his hand, said the DGP.
Three other police personnel — Inspector Bikkar Singh, ASI Raj Singh and ASI Raghbir Singh — were also injured. Mandi Board official A.R. Yadwinder Singh too suffered some injuries.
Gupta said the accused had set up ‘morcha’ inside the dera and had placed LPG cylinders along the perimeter to set off blasts. Despite appeals, they refused to surrender. They abused the police and threatened them with serious consequences if they tried to come closer.
The police then sent Sarpanch and some villagers inside to persuade them to surrender. But they failed. Soon thereafter, the police heard loud shouts from inside the gurdwara premises, suggesting some innocent people might have got caught in the trouble.
A police team, comprising the Special Operations Group, led by ADGP Rakesh Chandra, entered the premises to flush them out. The Nihangs fired at the police, but were overpowered, said the DGP.
The operation was conducted in a manner as not to disturb the sanctum sanctorum of the Gurdwara.
Condemning the incident, former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal urged people to cooperate with the government to contain coronavirus. The police and the healthcare personnel were selflessly performing a difficult task, he added.