Shaken by the public outrage over continued incidents of assault, especially those targeting its senior officers, the Punjab government has decided to raise special units within the State police that would be dedicated to patrolling during the night. More women would also be recruited into the police and trained to handle sensitive crimes.

This was disclosed by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, while fielding a barrage of questions from journalists, regarding an incident in which Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police S.S. Mand sustained injuries, when he and his friends, including an NRI, were assaulted inside a restaurant in Ghumar Mandi area of Ludhiana city on Monday night.

Mr. Badal, who, apart from being the Home Minister is also president of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, sought to disown the three main accused in the case, against whom a case of attempt to murder was registered. He said prime accused Maninderpal Singh alias Sunny Johar, who is the owner of the restaurant was no longer associated with the party as the Youth Akali Dal had expelled him a few months ago for indulging in anti-party activities.

“For God’s sake, please do not attribute every act of crime to the Akali Dal. Compare our reaction to other governments, including the one at the Centre. While they dilly-dally, we are quick to take action. The persons who shot ASI Ravinderpal Singh were apprehended within seven hours and those who assaulted Mr. Mand will not escape the law,” he said, reiterating the present government’s “zero tolerance” to crime as against the “clean chit culture” during the previous Congress regime.

However, Mr. Badal refused to accept that the assault on Mr. Mand was an attack on the Punjab Police. He argued that Mr. Mand was at a private get-together, where he was not sporting his uniform, when the incident occurred.

In the meantime, the police arrested all the three named in the FIR. While Johar and Rishi were arrested in Mohali district, Aman was nabbed in Ludhiana. They also recovered the revolver, which the accused had snatched from the NRI, Paramjit Singh, on whose complaint the case was registered.

Through a statement, the president of the Punjab unit of the Congress, Captain Amarinder Singh, asked Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to “either perform or leave.” He demanded that Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia be ‘tamed’ and his ‘reign of terror’ on policemen be prevented. He charged that the State was heading towards anarchy as anti-social elements ‘patronised’ by Mr. Majithia, who is the president of the Youth Akali Dal, had become a law unto themselves.

The Akali Dal through a statement from its treasurer N.K. Sharma said the Ludhiana incident was actually a ‘deep-rooted conspiracy’ by the Congress.