Curfew in Jalandhar after Vienna Gurudwara clash (Lead)

May 25th, 2009 - 1:25 am ICT by IANS  

State Bank of India Jalandhar, May 24 (IANS) A clash between two groups in a gurudwara in Austrian capital Vienna in which 11 people were injured Sunday triggered tension in Punjab, with curfew being imposed in this city and several vehicles being torched here and elsewhere in the state.
Security was heightened in several parts of the state after protestors here torched a truck and a State Bank of India ATM and damaged several vehicles.

The protestors blocked roads and highways in and around Jalandhar and nearby industrial town of Phagwara.

“Curfew has been imposed in Jalandhar city following violence. Road and rail traffic has been affected,” Jalandhar range inspector general of police (IGP) Sanjiv Kalra said.

Train traffic through Jalandhar, including the New Delhi-Amritsar Shatabdi train, was affected as protestors blocked rail tracks too.

The Punjab Police was out in substantial numbers here and in Phagwara, Hoshiarpur, Patiala and Nakodar towns after some members of a Sikh sect, Guru Ravi Dass Sabha, took to the streets protesting against the Vienna incident. Trouble was brewing in these places late Sunday evening, police officials on the spot said.

There was considerable tension at the ‘Sachh Khand’ Dera (sect) headquarters following the Vienna incident.

“I am in a very serious situation. I cannot say anything at this point,” IGP Kalra had earlier told IANS.

Protestors were out on the streets in Jalandhar and blocked traffic on several roads, including National Highway (NH) No.1 that passes through Jalandhar. The police had to direct traffic through alternative and village roads.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal condemned the Vienna incident and urged people in Punjab to remain peaceful. He urged the central government to take up the matter with the Austrian government so that the guilty were punished.

In Vienna, at least 11 people were wounded, many severely, in an armed attack involving rival Sikh groups in a gurudwara Sunday morning. The incident took place during a sermon by two guest gurus from India.

According to reports, several bearded and turbaned men equipped with at least one firearm stormed the shrine during sermon. During the melee, members of the congregation pounced upon the attackers and overpowered them, beating some severely.

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