An indefinite curfew was clamped this afternoon in parts of old Ludhiana city after a group of people protesting the holding of a religious congregation by sect leader Ashutosh Maharaj clashed with police.
An official spokesman said that the curfew has been imposed in four police station areas as a precautionary measure in view of the tension building up in the wake of the clash that left one dead and 15 others, including three policemen, injured.
Patrolling by security forces has been increased to instill a sense of confidence among the residents, the spokesman said.
The policemen, including Deputy Superintendent of Patran in Patiala district Sukhdev Singh, sustained injuries in the clash in which police used batons and teargas to quell the protestors.
The DSP was injured when he was stabbed by a ‘kirpan’.
Some of the protestors were seen wielding swords and 'kirpans' at the protest march, a police spokesman said.
The clash broke out when a group protesting against the congregation called by Jalandhar-based Divya Jyoti Sansthan chief Ashutosh Maharaj tried to force their way towards the venue.
Led by former Jathedar of Akal Takht Jasbir Singh Rode and some other radical leaders including Damdami Taksal Chief Mokham Singh and Harnam Singh, the protestors reached Samrala Chowk, less than a kilometre from the congregation spot of Divya Jyoti Jagran Sansthan chief.
Police tried to stop them at the barricaded check post but they refused to heed following which police opened fire in the air, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Ludhiana Range Sharad Chauhan told reporters.
Police then used batons and tear gas to disperse the protestors.
A spokesman of a local hospital said one person was brought dead and 12 others were injured in the clash.
A number of vehicles, including those of the police, were damaged by the marching protestors resulting in disruption of traffic on various roads, including the Delhi Ludhiana National Highway passing through the industrial town.
The protestors had commenced a dharna some distance away from the congregation site even as police personnel had been deployed in strength to control the situation in the wake of clashes at several places.
“We fired in the air after tear gas failed to stop the protestors who damaged a number of police and private vehicles,” the DIG said.