Punjab: Phagwara again tense after Dalit youth injured in clash died, mobile internet services suspended

The 19-year old Yashwant, a Dalit activist who had sustained a bullet injury on his head in the Phagwara clash between members of Dalit outfits and Hindu right-wing groups has died.
Image for representational purpose only.
Image for representational purpose only.

CHANDIGARH: Sixteen days after 19-year old Yashwant alias Bobby a Dalit activist who had sustained a bullet injury on his head in the Phagwara clash between members of Dalit outfits and Hindu right-wing groups succumbed to his injuries at a hospital in Ludhiana hospital in the wee hours on Sunday, thus again this small town near Jalandhar is tense. Fearing trouble the authorities have blocked mobile internet services for twenty four hours in four districts of the state.

The clash that took place on April 13 between both the communities on the issue of renaming of the Goal Chowk as Sambhidhan Chowk (roundabout) on National Highway 1 as a group of dalit youths installed a flex board bearing a photo of Dr BR Ambedkar. After these hoardings were fixed leaders of some right wing groups, including factions of Shiv Sena, gathered there to oppose the move saying that the action of Dalit body was illegal.

After the clash Bobby was admitted at DMC Hospital in Ludhiana after he sustained injuries and had been undergoing treatment there. His condition was stated to be critical and at 1.45 AM (intervening
nigh of Saturday and Sunday) he was declared dead by the doctors. After the post-mortem his body was sent back to Phagwara today morning under tight police security. The leaders of his community carried his stretcher on their shoulder for more than half-an-hour on Banga Road amid sloganeering and demanding immediate naming of Goal Chowk as Samvidhan Chowk and even erecting a memorial in the memory of Bobby at the point.

Bobby was cremated today as his younger brother Tanish lit his pyre.

Many leaders attended the cremation including Congress MLA Raj Kumar Chabbewal and Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Pawan Tinu.

Trouble again arose when people were returning back from the funeral and attempted to go to the Goal Chowk again but due to heavy police deployment their attempt was foiled after a minor scuffle.

Sources said that around 4,000 policemen, including Punjab Police, three companies each of Rapid Action Force, Anti-Riots Squads and BSF have been deployed in all sensitive areas in the town. Also, entry of vehicles into Phagwara has been suspended. Local administration has diverted the traffic to avoid entry of buses from National Highway-1 into Phagwara.

Deputy Commissioner of Kapurthala, Mohammad Tayyab said that curfew has not been imposed but there was heavy deployment of security forces across the town. Inspector General of Police (Jalandhar Range) Naunihal Singh said they have connected CCTVs and were monitoring all the movement from the city’s police stations.

Mobile internet services had been blocked for twenty hours in the four districts (Jalandhar, Kapurthala, SBS Nagar and Hoshiarpur) of Doaba after midnight of April 28.

A day after the clash on April 14,  a case was registered in which around 100 people, including 33 by name were booked for attempt to murder, hurting religious sentiments, robbery, assault,  Arms Act and the National Highways Act.

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express