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Malerkotla, Punjab tense after alleged desecration of Holy Quran
Sunday June 26, 2016 1:57 AM, Agencies

Punjab’s Muslim-dominated town of Malerkotla remained tense on Saturday following violence triggered by an alleged incident of desecration of holy book, the Quran. People burnt vehicles and damaged property after apparently torn pages of the holy book were found in a cemetery.

Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh alleged that the local Akali Dal legislator Farzana Khatoon's husband and former DGP Izhar Alam's security personnel fired indiscriminately at people, injuring many.

A mob allegedly attacked the house of Farzana Khatoon while protesting alleged sacrilege of a religious book forcing police to open fire, police said on Saturday.

Six policemen including a DSP was injured as protesters who numbered around 300-400 indulged in stone pelting, torched a car and a room meant for security men outside the MLA’s house.

The legislator who was in the house was safe, DSP Randhir Singh said on the incident that occured in Malerkotla town in Sangrur district Friday night.

Police officials said that the situation in the town, 125 km from Chandigarh in Sangrur district, remained tense but under control.

The incident, followed by violence, took place during the holy month of Ramzan.

Strongly condemning the incident of sacrilege, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal urged people to exercise calm.

"Nobody would be allowed to disturb the hard earned peace and communal harmony in the state," he said.

Badal exhorted people "to keep restraint in such provocative circumstances".

Amarinder Singh however apprehended "a conspiracy at the behest of the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal" to disturb peace and destabilise Punjab ahead of elections.

"There appears to be a pattern in these incidents. Less than a year ago, the holy Guru Granth Sahib was desecrated leading to protests and firing on people leading to death of two protestors," Amarinder said, demanding a time-bound probe into such incidents.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also termed the incident unfortunate, but slammed the Akali Dal government for its failure to protect holy books of all faiths in the state.

Sangrur MP and senior AAP leader Bhagwant Mann while demanding a judicial probe into all similar incidents that occurred in the state recently said those responsible for attempting to create communal divide by resorting to such acts should be booked.


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