Orphans terrorized, thousands stranded in Punjab Sikh riots

May 26th, 2009 - 8:53 pm ICT by John Le Fevre  

Punjab riots Orphans and newborn babies at the Nari Niketan trust shelter and nursery have been terrorized by rioting Sikh’s in Jalandhar angry at the murder of guru Sant Ramanand in Vienna on Sunday.

A trustee of the organization, Seema Chopra, said the 32 girls and staff members who supervise a nursery of newborns were left terrified as protesters armed with sticks, bricks, stones and swords ran amok, throwing rocks onto and against the building.

Fifty-seven-year-old Ramanand was attacked by six men armed with knives and a pistol during a ceremony at a gurdwara in Austria setting of a wave of violent protests by Dera Sachkhand sect followers throughout the Punjab.

One person was killed and four injured when Army personnel opened fire to disperse a mob attempting to burn down a police station near Lambra, 30 km from Jalandhar, while another person was seriously injured when police opened fire at a mob attacking the Jalandhar Cantonment railway station.

At least 11 train coaches and a locomotive were destroyed, along with dozens of buses, cars, private and government buildings.

All trains on the Ambala to Amritsar section have been canceled, including the Shatabdis, while the Delhi to Lahore bus and Lahore to Delhi buses were stopped briefly and diverted from Ludhiana and Amritsar via Moga and Sultanpur Lodhi.

The protests have standard thousands of tourists in the region as protesters target bus depots, while cable TV providers were told to stop telecast of channels beaming pictures of the violence.

Amid simmering tension throughout the region the Army, paramilitary forces, the Rapid Action Force and the Punjab police conducted flag marches, while local peace committees were formed.

In Amritsar police resorted to cane-charging and teargas to disperse a mob that damaged vehicles at the bus station and ransacked commercial property near Hall Gate.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said 40 battalions of the Punjab Armed Police had been deployed while the State government had sought another 25 companies of paramilitary forces.

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