Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh today declared a virtual war against the Akali government in the state for its "failure" to transfer the Ludhiana Police Commissioner in the 'Chitta Ravan' case, asking the party workers in all the 117 Assembly segments to burn effigies as a mark of protest.
As the Punjab Congress' siege of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's residence here continued for the second day, he said, "Mark my words, this is just the beginning. We will destroy the chitta and its Ravan in its entirety in Punjab."
Congress workers had reportedly prepared white Ravan effigies in protest against the sale of heroin (chitta) in Punjab. They had planned to burn them on Dussehra, along with photos of the chief minister and his son (Deputy Chief Minister) Sukhbir Singh Badal, which led to a clash between them and Akali Dal supporters in Ludhiana that left at least 35 people injured.
The police had arrested Punjab Youth Congress secretary Parvinder Singh Lapran on Wednesday in connection with the incident. Alleging police bias and claiming that no case was lodged against the Akali Dal activists, Congress workers have been staging an indefinite protest outside Badal's residence here since yesterday.
The protesters, including Congress MPs and MLAs, are demanding Ludhiana Police Commissioner Jatinder Aulakh's transfer and ADCP Jaswinder Singh's suspension.
Addressing them, Amarinder demanded withdrawal of cases against Congress workers jailed on "fictitious" charges of assaulting Akali Dal activists.
Asking the Akalis why were they so "touchy" about the 'Chitta Ravan' issue, the state Congress chief said, "Is it your guilty conscience that gets pricked and causes goosebumps over the very mention of 'chitta'?"
"By resorting to violence against the burning of the 'Chitta Ravan', the Akalis have actually admitted to their guilt of being synonymous with the synthetic drug," he claimed.
Amarinder said the 'Chitta Ravan' was there not only in Ludhiana but all over Punjab, with the "people using it to express their anger against the Badals".
He claimed that in Amritsar, effigies of the chief minister and his son were burnt during Dussehra celebrations.
"If they (the Badals) think they can intimidate and gag the people by abusing their power, they are miserably mistaken," Amarinder said, adding that it was a matter of "few more months" before the Badals were "forced to run for cover".
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"Today, people are only burning your effigies. Tomorrow, they will be after your life," Amarinder warned the Badals.
"People will not even wait for the election. They are simply waiting for the Model Code of Conduct to be enforced before they start venting their ire against the Badals," he said, warning the Badals to "mend their ways" and "tame their goons" as "their countdown" had already started.
The state Congress chief accused the Ludhiana Police Commissioner of "acting more like an Akali Jathedar than a police officer" and demanded his transfer.
He also demanded cancellation of FIRs against the Congress workers and their immediate release from jail.
"It is an irony that the culprits are walking free and the victims have been put behind bars," Amarinder said, pointing out that Congress workers were arrested and the Akali goons, who had attacked and injured them, had "not even been touched".
As a show of solidarity with their colleagues in Ludhiana, he said Congressmen in all the Assembly segments of Punjab will be asked to burn effigies of the 'Chitta Ravan'.
"We will start with this symbolic burning, before actually destroying the real evil of 'chitta' and its Ravan in the state," he added.
Yesterday, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had directed the DGP to rush to Ludhiana for an on-the-spot inquiry into the clash between Akali Dal activists and Congress workers.
DGP Suresh Arora was asked to submit his report within three days.
Police have registered a case in connection with the incident under various IPC sections, including 307 (attempt to murder), 365 (kidnapping), 506 (threatening) and 295 (hurting religious sentiments) against those involved in the clash.
Deputy Leader of Opposition Bharat Bhushan Ashu, who represents the Ludhiana West Assembly seat, had claimed that 12 Congressmen were injured in the clash.
According to the police, Akali Dal supporters had damaged the white Ravan prepared by the Congressmen and also allegedly damaged the vehicle of Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu.