| Jalandhar |
Updated: October 13, 2020 6:22:37 am
Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma’s vehicle was attacked allegedly by protesting farmers at around 7.15 pm Monday near the Cholang toll plaza in Tanda in Hoshiarpur district. Windowpanes of Sharma’s car were damaged, though he did not sustain any injuries. While Tanda SHO Bikram Singh said that protesting farmers were behind the attack, Sharma termed the incident as “state-sponsored”, adding that the attackers could not have been farmers. BJP’s national general secretary Tarun Chug later alleged that Youth Congress workers were behind the attack.
CM condemns attack
Condemning the attack in a tweet, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh directed the DGP to immediately identify the culprits and act against them, but dismissed the allegation that Congress was behind it.
“Won’t let anyone disturb state’s peace or take law into their hands,” he tweeted, adding: “There is no question of Congress involvement in attack and BJP should refrain from making frivolous and politically motivated allegations. This is highly irresponsible as Punjab Police is investigating the case.”
How it unfolded
The incident took place when Sharma was going back to Pathankot from Jalandhar after attending two party meetings. When his vehicle reached the Cholang toll plaza near Tanda, a group of protesting farmers shouted slogans and threw punches at the car’s windowpanes, SHO (Tanda) Bikram Singh said. Farmers had laid siege to the toll plaza on October 5, the SHO added.
Ashwani Sharma claimed that baseball bats and stones were used to damage his vehicle and his gunmen took it to safety.
“The attack was only to defame the farmers’ ongoing agitation,” he said. Hoshiarpur SSP Navjot Singh Mahal said the Punjab BJP chief was “perfectly alright”.
BJP workers and Sharma’s supporters later staged a dharna and blocked vehicular traffic for about 45 minutes at Dasuya on the Jalandhar-Pathankot GT road, demanding action against the culprits.
Later, Sharma lodged a complaint at the Dasuya police station.
Talking to the media, Sharma said that when he left the venue of BJP meeting in Jalandhar, he noticed that two vehicles with black flags were chasing his car, adding that inside it were the ones who attacked his vehicle.
“I passed from the same toll plaza in the morning when farmers were also sitting on dharna at toll plaza, but no one attacked my vehicle. Then how is it that in the evening they did this. This is nothing but the state government’s act.”
Sharma also accused the police of being absent from the toll plaza dharna when his car was attacked.
It is learnt that earlier in the day, some farmers had tried to meet the state BJP chief in Jalandhar to communicate their grievances, but they were stopped by the police after which they staged a dharna close to the venue of BJP’s meeting waving black flags. Farmers sat on this dharna for the whole day till the meeting got over at 6.30 pm. They were reportedly angry with Sharma for not meeting them.
Youth Cong behind it: BJP
Reacting to the attack, BJP’s National General Secretary Tarun Chugh said that Congress had deliberately conducted the attack to discredit the farmers’ agitation.
“Youth Congress had attacked BJP offices in Ludhiana and Amritsar in recent days and targeted BJP leaders. In this instance too it is a well planned attack by Congress, and Youth Congress in particular, to defame the farmers sitting on agitation,” said Chugh.
Meanwhile, AAP MLA from Sunam, Aman Arora, also condemned the attack and said that it could not be the handiwork of the farmers sitting on agitation.
“In a democracy everyone has the right to protest in a peaceful manner. The farmers’ organisations have disowned the attack and it is clear that they are not responsible for it. Punjab government should ensure that the law and order situation in the state is not disturbed by those taking advantage of this agitation,” said Arora.
(WITH INPUTS FROM PTI & ENS, CHANDIGARH)
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