Ravi Dhaliwal, Tribune News Service
Gurdaspur, April 1. Partial normalcy was restored in the town today after the security forces relaxed the curfew for 10 hours in two phases. The paramilitary forces and the police have been regularly patrolling the streets to instill confidence among the residents.
It was on Thursday that the curfew was clamped on the town following clashes between two communities. An 18-year-old youth, Jaspal Singh, was killed as the police opened fire to “disperse” the mob.
The death resulted in the suspension of Gurdaspur Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Varinder Pal Singh and Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Manpreet Singh whereas Deputy Commissioner Mohinder Singh Kainth was transferred elsewhere.
Also, a case under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code was registered against DSP Manpreet Singh who had led the police party which resorted to firing. The government orders came as the victim’s relatives refused to cremate the body until action was taken against the “guilty” officials.
The action is also being attributed to sustained pressure put up by Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh, Damdami Taksal chief Baba Harnam Singh Dhumma, former Akal Takht Jathedar Jasbir Singh Rode and other members of the Sikh clergy who had been camping at the deceased’s native village Chour Sidhwan since Friday. Both the SSP and the DC, who left for Chandigarh today, refused to comment on their respective exits.
Kainth found himself cold-shouldered when he was handed over his transfer orders even though he had played a key role in brokering peace between the two communities.
On the other hand, the decision to suspend the district police chief has been criticised by the junior police officials who claimed the SSP had no direct role as far as the imposition of curfew was concerned. He has been told to report to the Chief Secretary, who would decide his next place of posting.
Sources said the SSP too had to pay the price for the “covert actions of politicians at whose behest the situation had turned from bad to worse on Thursday”.
Later, she also visited Pandher village, the native place of Ranjit Singh who was seriously injured in the firing. He is recuperating at the Amritsar Civil Hospital where his condition was stated to be stable.
Pathankot Deputy Commissioner Siben. C, who is also holding the charge of Gurdaspur, said a meeting of the Peace Coordination Committee would be held tonight where a decision would be taken on whether to lift the curfew completely tomorrow or to relax it in phases.
Gurbachan Singh led the negotiations with the state government on behalf of the deceased’s family. He had threatened that he would resign as Akal Takht chief if no action was taken against the erring officials.
The DC’s transfer has come as a surprise to many as his role did not come under the scanner in the deliberations between the representatives of the Sikh bodies and the government.