Even as the Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal ordered the immediate dismissal of the Punjab police personnel who deserted the scene while ASI Ravinderpal Singh was shot, Akali workers allegedly assaulted a journalist and a Punjabi singer in two incidents in Jalandhar and Mohali, respectively.
Mr. Badal, who holds the Home portfolio in the State Cabinet, has deputed Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) Dinkar Gupta to make an on-the-spot assessment of the situation.
Mr. Gupta will probe charges related to dereliction of duty by the police in Chheharta police station, which is a few yards away from where Ravinderpal Singh tried to protect his daughter from being harassed before he fell to the bullets fired by a former office bearer of the ruling Akali Dal, of which Mr. Badal is the president.
After calling on the family of the deceased officer at their residence in Rampura village, Mr. Badal issued instructions to expeditiously identify security personnel, who accompanied Ravinderpal Singh to the spot. He also ordered their dismissal.
Meanwhile, in Jalandhar, Ashwani Malhotra, a journalist working for a major television channel, was assaulted in full public view allegedly by Akali workers and supporters when Malhotra intervened to protect a girl from being molested by three youth.
After being challenged by the journalist, who received some public support, the motorcycle-borne group fled the spot only to return with others armed with rods, baseball bats, sticks and swords and beat up Mr. Malhotra, who was then being accompanied by his son and daughter-in-law.
While the journalist and three others were admitted to the hospital, the group flaunted their political connection with the ruling party. The local journalists had to protest and get a case registered against the group of youths, seven of whom had been captured on the spot by the people.
At Mohali, youths claiming affiliation with the ruling party, beat up a Punjabi singer Subhash alias Babbu Chandigarhiya when he refused to oblige them with a song at a wedding of a relative of Akali leader inside the PCA cricket stadium. Subhash told journalists that he had refused to sing because he was attending the function as a guest and not as a performer, which did not please the audience that warned him of “dire consequences.”
Reacting to the string of events, Congress president Amarinder Singh demanded immediate imposition of President's rule on the State, as the law and order machinery had broken down. “First Faridkot, then Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Muktsar and now the Akali goons have taken the law into their hands in Jalandhar and Mohali. What kind of a Chief Minister is Mr. Badal who cannot see this severe breakdown? If a police officer cannot defend his daughter, the plight of the common public needed no imagination,” he said, talking to journalists after meeting ASI Ravinderpal Singh’s family.
Captain Singh warned that the tactic of using anti-social elements to terrorise political opponents and the public would backfire on the Akalis soon. He advised the Chief Minister to rein in Public Relations and Information Minister Bikram Singh Majithia who was patronising “goondas.” He said that backed by political patronage, the Akali Jathedars were running the police stations, while officers and personnel were on their knees.
At Bholath, the former MLA, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, and his supporters were placed under preventive detention by the local police. The Congress leader had announced his protest programme against “criminalisation of politics under Akali rule.” He planned to sit on dharna outside the Chief Minister’s public programmes in the constituency on Tuesday.