Punjab government shuts Internet, transfers top police officials

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Patiala clash: The order to suspend the mobile phone services, except phone calls, was issued by the home affairs and justice department.

The Punjab government has shunted the top police officials of Patiala following a clash between Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) members and Sikh activists during an anti-Khalisan protest on Friday. The government has also ordered that mobile internet services and SMS services in the city remain suspended on Saturday, to prevent rumour-mongering.

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, who on Friday promised to restore peace in the city, has ordered the transfer of the Inspector General of Police (Patiala range), Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) and the Superintendent of Police (SP), an official statement said.

A spokesperson for the Chief Minister’s Office said Mukhwinder Singh Chinna has been appointed as the new Inspector General, while Deepak Parik and Wazir Singh have been appointed as new the SSP and the SP. 

The order to suspend the mobile phone services, except phone calls, was issued by the home affairs and justice department. 

“In exercise of the power conferred upon me by virtue of temporary suspension of telecom services (public emergency or public safety) rules, 2017, I Anurag Verma, principal secretary, home affairs and justice, do hereby order the suspension of the mobile internet services (2G/3G/45/CDMA), all SMS services and all dongle services etc provided on mobile networks except voice calls in the territorial jurisdiction of the district of Patiala from 9:30 am to 6 pm on April 30,” the order, accessed by PTI, read.

Four people have sustained injuries as the two groups came face-to-face and hurled stones at each other. The police had to resort to aerial firing to disperse the rampaging mobs.

Witnesses told the police that a group of Sikh activists opposed the Sena’s Khalistan Murdabad March. Harish Singla, the executive president of the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray), led the anti-separatist march from Arya Samaj Chowk to Kali Devi Temple.

The march had been organised against Sikhs For Justice chief Gurpatwant Singh Pannu’s call to observe the Khalistan Foundation Day on April 29.

Singla was arrested by the police on Friday. 

(With inputs from PTI, IANS)

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