Punjab on Fire over Vienna Killing, 2 Dies

At least two people were killed and several others injured as riots broke out in almost all towns and cities of Punjab and parts of Harayana after a Sikh guru was killed by a rival group in a temple in Vienna, Austria.

Thousands of angry protesters took to streets, set afire train coaches and ambushed with police, prompting authorities to impose curfew in four cities and calling out army in Jalandhar.

In the violence, one person was killed and four others were injured as Army personnel opened fire in Lambra village, 30 kms from Jalandhar, and another person was killed after the police opened fire on protesters at Jalandhar Cantt railway station

The army has marched through the streets of Jalandhar city and a curfew is in place in four major towns.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has appealed for maintaining peace. “I am deeply distressed by the outbreak of violence in Punjab following certain incidents in Vienna, Austria. Whatever the provocation, it is important to maintain peace and harmony among different sections of the people,” the Prime Minister said.

“I appeal to all sections of the people in Punjab to abjure violence and maintain peace. In areas where curfew has been imposed, it is necessary that people should go back to their homes and allow the security forces to restore law and order,” he added.

In the meanwhile, the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has given assurance that peace will be restored in Punjab.

Chidambaram assured a delegation of Punjab MPs that all logistical support including Army, paramilitary and helicopters are being provided to Punjab government to deal with violence that erupted in the state in the wake of the attack on Dera leaders in Vienna.

“The Home Minister apprised us of the situation and said all appropriate steps are being taken. The government of India is closely in touch with Punjab government. Peace and stability will be restored as soon as possible,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari told media persons.

It may be mentioned that Guru Sant Ramanand was attacked on Sunday in Vienna – during clashes at a religious ceremony – by six men armed with knives and a pistol.

He succumbed to his wounds in hospital early Monday.

Another preacher Sant Nirajnan Das, who was among 15 other people injured, is said to be stable.

Both the preachers were from a low-caste Sikh sect which has a large following in parts of Punjab and had travelled to Vienna to conduct a special service.

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