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1 killed in a clash between police and Sikh protesters
Published on 6 Dec. 2009 12:35 AM IST
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One person was killed and 15 were injured Saturday in a clash between the police and Sikh protesters who tried to disrupt a religious conference of controversial sect leader Ashutosh Maharaj in this largest city of Punjab. Police fired in the air and lobbed tear gas on Sikh protesters who tried to attack the conference venue located on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh road. “We tried to stop them but they attacked the police and tried to forcibly cross the barricades. They had come with full preparation and were carrying sticks and swords. To control the situation, police had to fire in the air to disperse mob,” a police official said. At least 10 vehicles, including those of the police, were also damaged by the protesters. Police sources said that one person was killed due to a bullet injury in chest. “Ludhiana is simultaneously facing two problems. One is of migrants’ agitation and other is of Sikh protests at the venue of Ashutosh Maharaj’s religious function,” Sanjeev Kalra, inspector general of police (Jalandhar zone), told IANS. “To control the situation at the venue of this function we have deployed senior officials there,” he added. Conservative Sikhs oppose the teachings of Ashutosh Maharaj, who heads Divya Jyoti Jagran Sansthan (DJJS), based in Noormahal near Jalandhar. Tight security arrangements had been made by the police for Saturday’s conference in view of rising tension between the two sides. The city had witnessed violence Friday also after hundreds of migrants went on a rampage and set 23 vehicles on fire to protest Punjab police’s inaction against robbers who were targeting them in recent months. Ludhiana, the industrial hub of Punjab, is around 100 km from the state capital Chandigarh. Bihar officials to meet migrants in Ludhiana The Bihar government Saturday decided to send its officials to Ludhiana after hundreds of migrant workers went on the rampage in the Punjab city, burning vehicles and blocking roads and railway tracks to protest police inaction against a biker gang. Home Secretary Amir Subhani said, “A team of two government officials will leave for Ludhiana to meet migrant workers to know their problems.” In the past few months, some migrant workers in Ludhiana have been targeted by a biker gang. Subhani told IANS over telephone that the Bihar government was serious about the security of the migrant workers. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has assured his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar that he will take all steps to contain the ire of the Bihari migrants. The Bihar government has now directed the chief secretary and state police chief to remain in touch with their Punjab counterparts. Curfew was imposed Friday in five areas of Ludhiana - Division Nos. 6 and 7, Simlapuri, Focal Point and Sahnewal - following the violence that began Thursday night. The mob of angry migrants set ablaze several vehicles, including two buses, trucks, cars and scooters. Eyewitnesses said at least 25 vehicles were set on fire. Ludhiana, an industrial city and home to big brands like the Hero and Oswal groups, attracts thousands of migrants from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other states every year for jobs. Over one third of the city’s four million population consists of migrants.

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