One farmer was killed while at least 12 others were injured when police reportedly resorted to cane-charge to disperse an agitating crowd of peasants, which was protesting against snapping of power connection and had taken some government officials hostage.
Denying that the farmer died in police cane-charge, a senior police officer claimed today that at least 15 policemen were injured during the melee and it was the farmers who first attacked the policemen last night.
However, the farmers maintained that last night one of their fellow protesters, Bhadur Singh, a resident of Bandala village of Jandiala Guru town of Amritsar district was killed during cane-charge as he was brutally beaten up by the police.
Singh had been declared brought dead at a hospital.
Last night, a heavy police force resorted to cane-charge on a group of over 300 farmers.
The farmers were demanding restoring the electric connections which were disconnected due to non payment. They were also demanding slashing of power tariff.
The situation took ugly turn when a heavy crowd of farmers led by Kissan Sangarsh Committee outfit led by Satnam Singh Pannu cordoned off the Punjab State Power Corporation office and took hostage its officers inside the office.
After that heavy police force reached the spot and resorted to cane-charge on the peasants to rescue the officers, sources said.
In the melee, over a dozen farmers were injured. The peasants had also allegedly hurled stones at the police.
Justifying the cane-charge, police Commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh said today that farmers had taken officials hostage that included some women of Punjab State Power Corporation Department.
The officer said the cane-charge was ordered when negotiations with farmers failed to yield any result and protests erupted.
“At least 15 policemen were injured during the melee,” he said.
Policemen have received serious head and nose injuries besides leg fractures and all were admitted in the hospital, Aulakh said.
“13 agitating farmers including its leader Satnma Singh Pannu were arrested last night for attacking policemen and taking hostage the employees and officers of Punjab State Power Corporation department,” the police officer said.
Expressing sympathy with the slain farmer, Aulakh said that his death was “highly unfortunate”, but at the same time denied that he had died on the spot where cane-charge took place.
He also claimed that during autopsy no injury mark was traced on his body and the farmer might have been killed due to sudden cardiac arrest.
Meanwhile, Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal described the incident as “unfortunate”.
“Stern action will be taken against the erring officials,” he said.
“These kinds of acts will not be tolerated by Punjab government,” he told reporters in Ludhiana today.
Radical Sikh outfit Dal Khalsa also condemned the incident.
Terming the cane-charge on the farmers as “ugly and shameful,” Dal Khalsa said the police of Punjab have perfected the art of “public torture” in the name of restoring law and order.
They expressed grief and sympathy with the family members of the Bahadur Singh, who allegedly died in police cane-charge.
Urging the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to act against guilty officers, they said an exemplary departmental punishment was required to rein in the “uncontrolled” force.