hand cut off

India’s fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 has tragically resulted in a horrific incident where a group of men have clashed with police who were simply enforcing social distancing rules. An Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) got his hand cut off.

Police, manning a barricade at the vegetable market in Patiala asked the men to show their curfew passes. The men refused to do and instead forced their way through the barricade. The policemen then chased them and told them to step out of their vehicle. Five men came out and launched an attack with swords. As ASI Harjit Singh fell down when his hand was cut off, six policemen received injuries. The men who were dressed up as Nihangs, then made their way to a dera building part of the Gurdwara Kichdi Sahib complex in Balbera village nearby.

The men refused to surrender and hurled petrol bombs at the police. They set up eight LPG cylinders on the periphery, threatening to blow them up. Intense negotiations involving Patiala IG Jatinder Singh Aulukh and SSP Mandeep Singh Sidhu, aided by the village sarpanch and others, could not lead the men to surrender. A commando operation was launched to get them and after a fierce scuffle with the commandos they were finally arrested. One of the Nihangs was injured by a gunshot fired by the commandos and hospitalised later.

The Nihangs are a Sikh sect whose normal practice is to dress up as warriors owing allegiance to the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh. They are often seen playing and putting up a display of their past time sport – the martial art of Gatka. They specialise in the traditional martial art of gatka (similar to the modern sport of fencing). They ordinarily live in Deras – shrines devoted to individuals who do not ordinarily enjoy the blessings of mainstream Sikh clergy. But those individuals are considered holy by their followers and live on the fringes of society.

The news was so horrendous that the chief minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh took to twitter to announce it and also to reassure people of Punjab:

“Police Party on Naka duty was attacked today in which one ASI’s hand was cut off & 6 were injured. Police cornered the culprits & have taken them into custody. (I) have given instructions to the @PunjabPoliceInd to deal with anyone breaking the law in strictest possible manner.”

Assistant sub-inspector Singh’s hand was later reattached after a marathon plastic surgery lasting seven and a half hours at Chandigarh’s Post Graduate Institute of Medical Science and Research (PGI) hospital.

Later, after a lot of hard work, Punjab police arrested 11 people from a village dera over their role in the incident. Police also found Rs 39 lakh in cash, two petrol bombs, spears, swords and other weapons, as well as five bags of poppy husk belonging to them.

The incident drew widespread condemnation from all political parties. Along with CM Amarinder Singh, several senior Congress leaders also demanded the strictest action against the culprits. Opposition Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) patriarch Parkash Singh Badal condemned the incident too and called for the severest punishment for the culprits.

To clarify their position, Shiromani Panth Akali Budha Dal, the leading Nihang organisation said that the culprits were not Nihangs and were, in fact, anti-social elements locally involved in extortion racketeering. He said that is borne out by the recovery of Rs 39 lakh in cash from them. He asserted that is something Nihangs, the ascetic members of the sect would never do.

Punjab’s special chief secretary KBS Sidhu backed up this claim on Twitter.

“Seven fugitives, donning the robes of Nihangs, have been arrested from the Gurdwara in village Balbera. One of these was injured in the police firing and has been rushed to hospital… The police party observed full Maryada while entering the Gurdwara premises. There were also women and children inside, who were unharmed, and have been left secure within the Gurdwara as before.”

Responding to the news of a cop’s hand cut off, Gobind Singh Longowal, president of the Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the body that manages Sikh places of worship, has urged people to remain disciplined during the curfew.

BJP leader and Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri said, “The inhuman attack on policemen in Patiala needs to be condemned in the strongest of terms. Such criminals and anarchists should be brought to justice at the earliest.”

Similar Posts by The Author: