Malerkotla: A news reported by the Hindustan Times regarding tensions in Malerkota, after the incidents of beadbi of Quran, reads as follows:
Tension gripped Malerkotla on Saturday after a night of violence triggered by the recovery of torn pages of the Quran outside a cemetery on Khanna Road in the heart of Punjab’s only Muslim-majority town.
Malerkotla superintendent of police Jaswinder Singh, his deputy Randhir Singh and Ahmedgarh station house officer (SHO) inspector Roshan Lal were among the eight injured in the clash between the police and protesters. They were hospitalised.
Police said the five others injured comprised two civilians and three police personnel, namely Surinder Singh, Balwinder Sharma and Darshan Singh, deployed at local Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Farzana Nissara Khatoon’s residence that was targeted by the mob of protesters.
MAYHEM AT MIDNIGHT
The police said 10 cars parked along NH 11 were set ablaze when nearly 500 people, who had gathered to block Jarg Chowk to protest against the incident, turned violent. As news spread, two private buses were burnt in the town’s bus stand, a kilometre away.
“Everyone in the mob was armed with pistols, rifles or stones. Initially, the protesters burnt tyres and damaged vehicles on the highway but then they headed towards Farzana’s house around 11pm amid rumours that policemen posted there had shot a person,” said an eyewitness on condition of anonymity.
The gatekeeper at Farzana’s house, Mohammad Najeed, said the protesters cut the power supply to the house before throwing stones at it and damaging the MLA’s cars. “Police personnel ran for cover. The attackers tried to set a petrol tanker nearby on fire too but couldn’t. After this, they started firing,” Najeed said, adding the police backup reached 40 minutes later. “It was a free for all before that.”
A cross-fire between the cops and the protesters ensued. Nearly 100 bullets were fired.
The mob also damaged a police Gypsy and a fire tender requisitioned from Sangrur.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
Tension started after the prayers on the third Friday of the holy month of Ramzan when news spread of torn pages of the Quran being found in a drain in front of the cemetery on Khanna Road.
Within minutes the mob gathered.
Punjab Muslim Front chairperson Shehzaad Hussain claimed more than 1,000 pages of two new copies of the holy book were found torn. The pages were later buried in the cemetery.
THREE FIRs, FLAG MARCH
DGP (law and order) Hardeep Singh Dhillon visited the town on Saturday and told reporters that three first information reports (FIRs) had been registered. “The first FIR is related to the sacrilege incident; the second is for the arson and the third for the attack on police personnel,” he said.
Sangrur district police chief Pritpal Singh Thind led a flag march through the town to instill confidence in residents.
The situation was tense but under control on Saturday.
POLITICAL BLAME GAME
SAD MLA Farzana’s husband Mohd Izhar Alam, who is a former Punjab Police DGP (prisons), alleged that “a local Congress leader” was behind the violence. He refrained from naming the leader but claimed that attackers were sent to create trouble. “The Congress leader spread the rumour that police deployed at my house had shot dead a person. Following this, more than 500 people attacked my house with stones,” Alam claimed, adding this was done with an eye on the assembly elections.
Local Congress leader and former MLA Razia Sultana hit back saying, “If Izhar Alam is holding the Congress responsible for this inhuman act, he must be out of his mind. Instead of appealing for peace, the SAD are making baseless statements. An unbiased police investigation will bring out the truth.”
Alam made Malerkotla his home in 2010 after retirement when he became the Punjab Wakf Board chairman. He would have got the SAD ticket in 2012 but for Sikh hardliners who raked up his controversial tenure during the days of militancy. His wife, Farzana, won the last assembly elections on the SAD ticket after a bitter battle with two-time MLA Razia Sultana, who is backed by her husband and IPS officer Mohammad Mustafa.
NOTE: Above News report was originally reported by the Hindustan Times under title: “Quran sacrilege triggers violence at Malerkotla, MLA’s house torched” at source url: http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/malerkotla-tense-after-quran-sacrilege-triggers-violence/story-sLSDnSoEzoEDyXhITo2gbJ.html.