The situation of Ludhiana’s Malerkotla area was tense on June 26 when the property of a Punjab assembly legislator was damaged by a mob. The group that damaged Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and chief parliamentary secretary Farzana Nissara Khatoon’s property wanted to complain about someone “tearing” the pages of the Quran in the area.
The tension started on June 24 at around 10 pm, when news spread that torn pages of the Quran were found near Jarg Chowk of Malerkotla. According to reports
, at around 1 am on June 25 a group tried to approach Khatoon, who lives on Ludhiana-Malerkotla road, but were reportedly turned away thus further escalating the tense situation.
The group then slowly started to grow and soon turned into a mob, when more than 300 people assembled at the MLA’s gates.
The MLA’s security reportedly fired in the air in self-defence, which turned the mob violent and they started to attack the security and police personnel present there. According to Hindustan Times
, the mob was armed.
Reports say that many people scaled the wall of the compound and torched the security guards’ cabin that was in the area.
They also damaged MLA Khatoon’s vehicles that were parked there and smashed several tables and chairs. A private bus was set on fire too.
The protesters dispersed only after additional forces from Sangrur were called to the scene.
ADGP (Law and Order) H.S. Dhillon visited the spot. The police booked over 250 people on attempt to murder charges.
Though no arrest has been made, an investigation is on and the police has recovered the CCTV footage of the area.
The police claim that no one was injured due to the firing, though the incident left two civilians and six police personnel severely injured. The incident has left the city tense, though at present the situation is said to be under control.
A burnt bus at the bus station. Tribune photo
The police have also clarified that they have lodged three separate FIRs: one is regarding the alleged desecration of the Quran; second against those who attacked the police; and third is against those who damaged property.
Meanwhile Khatoon is calling it a “political mischief by rival parties”.
Her husband Mohd Izhar Alam, who is a former Punjab Police DGP (prisons), alleges that “a local Congress leader” was behind the violence.