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Curfew relaxed briefly in violence-hit Punjab, Badal calls for all-party meet

Chandigarh, Tue, 26 May 2009 ANI

Chandigarh, May 26 (ANI): Curfew was relaxed for a brief while in some parts of Punjab on Tuesday, though there were reports of sporadic violence.


On Tuesday, the atmosphere in the northern state was still tense, a day after two protestors were killed in large-scale violence and arson sparked by the killing of a leader of a Sikh sect in Vienna, Austria. Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal will preside over an all-party meeting that will take stock of the overall situation and make appropriate recommendations.


The state government had to call in the army in four cities -- Phagwara, Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana and Jalandhar to bring the situation under control. No traffic is being allowed into Ludhiana till 2 p.m.


At least 45 persons including 20 policemen were injured as followers of the Dera Sachkhand Ballan Sikh sect and various Dalit organisations fought pitched battles with security personnel and indulged in vandalism.


Rail and road traffic were badly hit while trains were stranded in several stations in the state. Police said that in all there were 86 incidents of violence in Punjab.


The protesters torched four bogies of Jammu-Kanyakumari express at Jalandhar but the passengers left the train leaving behind their luggage's to protect themselves from the violent mob.


On Monday night, an SAD municipal councillor killed a protestor allegedly in self-defence after being attacked in Jalandhar district where authorities relaxed curfew for two hours on Tuesday.


A mob allegedly attacked SAD councillor Balbir Singh Bittu and burnt his car. Bittu opened fire at the mob in which Vijay was killed.


Jalandhar is a stronghold of the Dera Sach Khand, a Sikh sect comprised of mainly Dalits who took to the streets in protest against the death of one of their gurus Sant Raman Nand during a clash between rival Sikh communities in a Vienna Gurudwara.


Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said the situation was under control and claimed violent incidents was limited only to a few pockets in Jalandhar and its surrounding areas.


"The situation is normal, there is no violence at this moment and some incidents which took place today were limited to a few pockets, mostly in Jalandhar," Badal and his deputy and son Sukhbir Badal, who is also the SAD president, said while condemning the Vienna incident.


Meanwhile, police in Vienna said investigations are still on. The Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said that he has assured the Indian Government that the culprits involved in the attack would be brought to book. (ANI)


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