Eleven persons were arrested on Sunday for an attack on a police party by a group of Nihangs, a Sikh warrior sect, at a vegetable market in Punjab’s Patiala.
The hand of assistant sub-inspector Harjit Singh was severed with a sword in the attack that followed when the Nihangs were asked for curfew passes, the police said.
The accused, including a woman, were later arrested in an operation led by Inspector General of Police (Patiala Range) Jatinder Aulakh and Patiala’s Senior Superintendent of Police Mandeep Sidhu after they escaped into the Nihang Dera complex in Balbera, which also houses Khichdi Sahib Gurdwara.
“The accused included the five persons involved in the attack on the police team posted at the vegetable market in Sanaur early on Sunday morning. They had crashed through a series of barricades and attacked the police personnel who inquired about their curfew passes,” Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta said.
Baba Balwinder Singh, the Nihang head, who had come to the market in a vehicle with four other persons, was the main perpetrator of the attack, Mr. Gupta said.
“The operation followed a stand-off for several hours and many rounds of appeals and negotiations led by the Patiala SSP with Balwinder Singh to surrender with their weapons and swords. But the Nihangs refused to surrender,” he added.
Mr. Gupta said despite repeated announcements from the public address system, the accused refused to surrender. The police party heard loud shouts and noises from inside the gurdwara premises, suggesting that some innocent people and hostages within might have got caught in the trouble. the police team then moved into the premises, to flush out the criminalsrogue band of Nihang criminals. A few shots were fired by the accused at the police personnel before they were nabbed,” said the DGP, adding that entire operation was handled delicately so that the maryada (honour) and sanctity of the gurdwara was not disturbed in any manner.
“One Nihang, Nirbhav Singh, who suffered an injury in the incident was immediately removed to Patiala Hospital,” Mr. Gupta said.
A huge cache of weapons as well as handheld weapons, such as barchhe (lances) and kirpans, and some used cartridges were seized from the accused, in addition to two petrol bombs and LPG cylinders. Five bags of poppy husk (used for opium extraction) mixed with ‘sulpha’, large quantities of other drugs in commercial quantity and ₹39 lakhs in cash apart from bottles with chemical substances were also found inside the premises, police said.
“Assistant Sub-Inspector Harjit Singh, whose hand was reportedly cut off with a sword during the attack at the vegetable market, is undergoing plastic surgery at the PGI Chandigarhfor suturing back his hand, where he was rushed after the incident,” Mr Gupta said, adding three other police personnel were also injured in the incident. The accused had fled the scene after the attack and had taken refuge in Nihang Dera complex in Balbera.
Mr. Gupta said two separate cases have been registered against the accused. The first has been registered for the incident at Sabzi Mandi and the second case has been registered at Passiana against the accused for attempt to murder and other charges, he said.
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