A police officer's hand was chopped off and two others were injured on Sunday when a group of people, who were defying the ongoing Coronavirus lockdown, attacked them in Punjab's Patiala town.
Hours after the incident, police arrested nine men, including five assailants, from a Gurdwara in nearby Balbera village and recovered arms, cash, bags full of cannabis and petrol bombs.
According to the police, a group of men, armed with swords and iron rods, were travelling in a vehicle and they were asked to stop at a vegetable market by Mandi board officials.
The attackers were wearing donning Nihang dresses and have a criminal background, senior police officials said.
The attackers were asked about permission to come out during the lockdown.
A Punjab policeman shows a cut mark on this leg after being attacked by armed men at a market in Patiala. (PTI Photo)
“When they were asked to stop, they crashed the vehicle against the gate and barricades put up there,” Mandeep Singh Sidhu, SSP, Patiala, said.
"They were asked to show the curfew pass. They got angry and attacked police personnel and government employees deployed there with sharp-edged weapons," a police official said.
An Assistant Sub-Inspector’s hand was chopped off by a sword, while two others sustained injuries on their elbows and arms, Sidhu said.
The two injured cops have been shifted to the PGI, Chandigarh, for treatment.
One of the senior police officers of the SHO rank received 20 gashes during the clash.
"In an unfortunate incident today morning, a group of Nihangs injured a few police officers and a Mandi Board official at Sabzi Mandi, Patiala. ASI Harjeet Singh whose hand got cut-off has reached PGI Chandigarh," Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta informed in a tweet.
He said he was grateful to the PGI for full support.
"Director PGI tells me that surgery has already started by two senior surgeons who will do their best. All of us praying to Waheguru for his full recovery!," he added.
Later, the assailants, including the main accused Balwinder Singh, were rounded up from a gurdwara managed by them, police said. The Gurudwara is in Balbera on Patiala Cheeka road near the Punjab-Haryana border.
Police said they recovered arms, petrol bombs, Rs 35 lakh cash, bags full of cannabis during the raid at Gurudwara.
"Seven fugitives, donning the robes of Nihangs, have been arrested from Gurdwara in village Balbera. One of these was injured in police firing and has been rushed to a hospital. The operation was supervised by IG Patiala Zone, Jatinder Singh Aulakh," said KBS Sidhu, Special Chief Secretary, Punjab.
The police have registered an attempt to murder case against the accused.
“They did not follow the basic rules of staying away from each other. Later they had a tiff with Mandi Board officials who refused to allow them to buy stuff without standing in a queue. When the police asked them for curfew passes, they attacked the cops inside and outside at the market. They even banged their car in the police barricade and then got off the vehicle to attack cops with swords and rods," said the SSP.
(With agency inputs)