The Akali leaders Monday marched to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's official residence and clashed with police in its vicinity as part of their "unannounced" protest against "denigration" of the Sikh gurus in class 12 history text books of the state.
Their protest eventually ended with Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal courting arrest along with around 60 of his party MLAs, leaders and workers, yards away from the chief minister's residence.
The chief minister, in turn, slammed the Akalis for unnecessarily creating a law and order problem over the issue, saying the party chief was taking law into his hands despite the government already having withdrawn the controversial text books and ordered their review by the expert group.
The unannounced Akalis' protest caught the Chandigarh police and intelligence agencies unawares as Sukhbir Singh Badal, leading a group of around 60 of his party MLAs and leaders -- all wearing black badges -- began a march towards the chief minister's residence around 12.45 PM after holding a party meeting.
The Akali Dal chief was initially scheduled to hold a press conference after the meeting, but he began the march instead, with his security personnel in tow.
Caught off guard, around seven to eight Chandigarh police personnel managed to put up barricades a few hundred meters away from the chief minister's residence.
But the Akali leaders clashed with the police and the chief minister's security personnel and broke past the barricades.
The police, meanwhile, managed to park two buses and a jeep in the middle of the road, blocking the approach road to the CM's residence.
But the Akali leaders managed to reach the entry point of the CM's residence after a scuffle with the police and sat on the road there, raising slogans against the state government.
The Akali leaders, including its chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, former minister Bikram Singh Majithia and MP Balwinder Singh Bhunder, subsequently courted arrest and held protest even at the police station later.
Addressing media later, the Akali Dal chief accused the Punjab government of hurting sentiments of the Sikh community by denigrating the Sikh gurus in the newly-introduced history textbooks for class 12 under Punjab School Education Board (PSEB).
The CM has to apologise to the Sikhs and a case should be registered against those who wrote this book, said Sukhbir.
What can be worse than this that Amarinder Singh considers these as minor mistakes? It is the biggest sacrilege incident when you use words against guru sahibans... you have distorted the Sikh history. It is a serious crime, he added.
In a statement, Chief Minister Singh later said Sukhbir Singh Badal's action was a frantic bid to divert the people's attention from the crisis plaguing the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which, he said, faced an internal revolt just months before the crucial Lok Sabha elections.
The chief minister said he had already directed the PSEB to continue with the existing history textbooks for classes 11 and 12, pending completion of their review by an expert group, set up for the purpose.
The group has already held 11 meetings to assess the text books' standard with particular focus on factual and religious discrepancies, if any, he said.
The chief minister said he has categorically clarified that the students would be taught only the "factually correct" history, "backed by evidence" and "without any dilution" in the coverage of the Punjab and Sikh history.
Yet, he added, 'Sukhbir & Co' were continuing to politicise the vital issue which showed their total lack of sensitivity towards the interests of the people of Punjab, particularly the student community.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)