At least 15 people were injured on Wednesday when a clash broke out between the Punjab Police and a group of Sikh people, who took to the streets in Kotkapura area of Faridkot district in protest against the alleged desecration of their holy book, Guru Granth Sahib.
Among those who were injured in the violence, 12 are police personnel, including Bathinda inspector general of police Jitendra Jain, Hindustan Times reported.
The protesters took to violence after they found over 100 pages of Guru Granth Sahib scattered on the roads en route to a gurdwara at Bargari village on Monday. It is being alleged that the pages belong to a 'bir' that was stolen from a neighbouring village -- Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village -- in June.
Several Sikh groups have been protesting against the theft of the 'bir' since June. "We have been protesting in a peaceful way since June 1, when a 'bir' was stolen from the nearby village of Burj Jawahar Singh Wala. But no action was taken against the accused," executive district president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) said.
However, the protest turned violent early on Wednesday morning when police resorted to lathicharge, opened fire in the sire and used water cannons to disperse the crowd. When the police tried to arrest the Sikh leaders heading the protest, mob became more violent and torched many vehicles.
The situation in Faridkot district is tense but under control. A contingent of state police has been deployed to in the affected areas to maintain law and order.
Violence over rumors of alleged desecration of religious text in Kotkapura, Punjab; vehicles damaged, set on fire pic.twitter.com/kEQRkmpPux
— ANI (@ANI_news) October 14, 2015
Surjit Singh Arian Wala had said that on the "intervening night of September 25-26", they also found a handwritten poster near "Burj Jawahar Singh Wala gurdwara, in which foul language was used against the Guru Granth Sahib".
They have decided to hold peaceful protests demanding arrest of those behind the alleged desecration of their holy book. "Those responsible for the sacrilege of the scripture should be arrested immediately," said Damdami Taksal chief Harnam Singh Dhuma.
As part of their protest, Sant Samaj led by Dhuma has called for a shutdown in Malwa regions, including Faridkot, Moga, Fazilka, Ferozepur, Muktsar, Bathinda and Barnala, on 15 October. Dhuma has asked the Sikhs to maintain peace during the shutdown.
The shutdown will not affect health services.