By Arré Bench Apr. 12, 2020
A Punjab police checkpost was attacked by a group of criminals defying the lockdown. In the violence, the hand of an ASI was severed. A few social media users appealed that this not be turned into yet another communal issue, but almost on cue, the hashtag “Khalistanis” began to trend.
While calls for solidarity continue in the third week of the national lockdown, it seems as though a few citizens of the country haven’t got the memo.
The latest shocking display of indifference to the national lockdown was reported from Punjab. In a horrific video that’s been circulating on social media for the last few hours, a team of policemen, who are standing beside a checkpost, are seen being attacked by a group of criminals. At the end of the video, one of these goons is seen allegedly severing the hand of ASI Harman Singh with a sword.
The police officer was rushed to a hospital where he is undergoing surgery, reports said. Two other police officers were also injured in the brazen attack that was caught on camera.
Shocking news coming in from Punjab: Men believed to be Nihangs chop off a policeman’s hand in Patiala when stopped from entering the sabzi Mandi. pic.twitter.com/W0SVKiZ8Cb
— seemi pasha (@seemi_pasha) April 12, 2020
The police chief later revealed, as reported by NDTV, that the vehicle was carrying Nihangs — members of a Sikh religious sect. The men apparently ignored the police team’s demands to see their curfew passes. In the video they can be seen crashing through the barricade before the violence breaks out.
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.
— DGP Punjab Police (@DGPPunjabPolice) April 12, 2020
Naturally, the incident has led to incessant debate online, much of it revolving around the religion of the attackers involved. Almost on cue, the hashtag “Khalistanis” too began appearing on timelines, as the video continued doing the rounds.
In fact GoaI should investigate whole Pakistan sponsored khalistani Propaganda, they want to thrive on the blood of innocent Sikhs by using and brainwashing some foolish Sikhs, govt should intervene, we don't want khalistanis to destroy us.#Patiala #Khalistani #Nihangs Patiala pic.twitter.com/24ZKJCNvcq
— Brijesh Dwivedi (@brijeshkavi) April 12, 2020
I have been highlighting the Sikh fundamentalism for years now, got abused by Khalistanis.
Today, Nihangs defying the curfew when asked to show the pass, chopped the hands of a police officer. Is it fair for the Indian Govt to let Sikhs possess arms in the name of religion?
— Sonam Mahajan (@AsYouNotWish) April 12, 2020
A few social media users, meanwhile, appealed that this not be turned into yet another communal issue, but be taken as it was — a criminal issue.
Khatre mein: Hindu?
Stop playing the Khalistani card for every small incident, Sardars of Punjab Police only caught the attackers. Same with militancy period. You're noone to point fingers at a community.
— Ranveer Singh Saini (@ranveersiiingh) April 12, 2020
As one user pointed out, “Before the main stream channels project this as a Khalistani attack… A police party enforcing lockdown was attacked by goons in Sanaur Mandi, Patiala. The goons do not belong to any Sikh organization. The attackers have been arrested already instead of being garlanded.”
Before the main stream channels project this as a Khalistani attack.
A police party enforcing lockdown was attacked by goons in Sanaur Mandi, Patiala. The goons do not belong to any Sikh organization.
The attackers have been arrested already instead of being garlanded. pic.twitter.com/BH4v0VV1sq
— Phone Waale Baba Ji (@iJasOberoi) April 12, 2020
Another brought up the difference between “Khalistanis”, “ISIS” and Hindutva “nationalists”.
How is it that violent Sikh men are Khalistanis, all Muslims are ISIS but Hindutva terrorists alone are 'nationalists'? Did I miss something?
— V (@ivivek_nambiar) April 12, 2020
Either way, the incident was shocking enough to lead to condemnation and sharp reactions from social media users, who demanded that stringent action be taken against the men. The eight men fled after attacking the police officers with weapons, but were later surrounded and arrested from a nearby gurudwara.
— Dr. Shamsher Singh IPS (@Shamsher_IPS) April 12, 2020
— Shiv Aroor (@ShivAroor) April 12, 2020
It’s been just two days since Punjab extended its lockdown to May 1, and already tensions are high in the state. The coronavirus quarantine isn’t making things easy, but with incidents like this, things are likely to get a lot tougher.