Phagwara, April 25: The town is yet to recover from communal tension, which came to the fore following the April 2 Bharat bandh.
The local police on Tuesday managed to avert a clash after shopkeepers of Bazar Bansan Wala shut their establishments in support of a bookseller whose shop was forcibly closed by a few Dalits. Activists of the General Samaj Manch (GSM) rushed to the spot and asked all shopkeepers to protest the Dalits’ action.
The situation turned tense when few Dalits too reached there and challenged the activists in the presence of SP Parminder Singh Bhandal.
Later amid slogans against the civil and police administration, hundreds of manch activists sat on a dharna on the Phagwara-Banga road. They demanded arrest of Lok Insaf Party leader Jarnail Nangal and Harbhghan Suman and transfer of the Phagwara SP, ADC and the SDM.
Meanwhile, an indefinite strike by Bahujan Sangharsh Organisation leader Rajinder Ghera ended on Tuesday after SSP Sandeep Sharma announced that the names of seven persons booked in connection with a clash between two groups on April 13 were excluded from the FIR.
In another development, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Tuesday gave in-principle approval for renaming the city’s Gol Chowk as Samvidhan Chowk.
The CM on Tuesday met a delegation of Dalit Samaj, including the families of the victims of the violence.
“There is nothing wrong in naming the roundabout as Samvidhan Chowk, as our Constitution does not belong to any particular caste or creed. We all are proud of it,” Capt Amarinder said, while directing the local administration to follow the procedure to rename the chowk.
The CM also directed DGP Suresh Arora to assess if stringent provisions of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act could be invoked against perpetrators of April 13 violence.
He appreciated “restraint” shown by the Dalit community. On their demand for the cancellation of FIRs against Dalit youths, Capt Amarinder directed the IGP, Jalandhar Range, to examine all such cases and submit a report to the DGP.
The CM was told that more than 3,500 policemen have been deployed in and around Phagwara to prevent any untoward incident.
Opposing the chowk renaming, the manch has announced “social boycott” of local Congress leader Joginder Maan. Its activists raised slogans against Congress MP Santokh Singh and MLA Raj Kumar Chabbewal. Several local Congress leaders announced to quit the party.
The activists gave a bandh call for Wednesday. They demanded that the chowk be named as Shaheed Bhagat Singh Chowk.