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Emergency Imposed in Punjab? – Police Unleashes Crackdown to Silence Dissenting Voices

April 15, 2020 | By

Chandigarh: It seems that an undeclared emergency has been imposed in Punjab since Sunday’s Patiala Sabzi Mandi incident. Eager to silence dissenting voices, the Punjab police is registering criminal cases, making arrests and putting behind bars all those who are not endorsing its narrative on Sunday’s incident and expressing a difference of opinion.

Arrest of 3 Announced on Monday:

After announcing the arrest of three people- including a Hoshiarpur based journalist and two others from Batala and Malout, the Punjab police has reportedly arrested several other persons for expressing their opinion over social media, or posting/sharing the opinion expressed by others.

ASP TV journalist Bhupinder Singh Sajjan who was arrested by Punjab police on April 12 (Sunday)

What Allegations Are Being Levelled:

These persons are being booked under allegations of having committed offences under section 115 IPC (Abetment of offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life), section 153-A (Promoting enmity between different groups), section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant/breaking curfew), section 271 (Disobedience to quarantine rule), section 270 (Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease danger­ous to life) and section 505 (Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes).

Granthi Arrested From Samana:

As per media reports, Samana police has arrested a ‘Granthi’ Singh from village Kadarabad and registered a case against him. Samana police incharge Insp. Ranbir Singh reportedly said that a police team has arrested a Granthi who had expressed his support for Nihang Singhs on Patiala Sabzi Mandi incident.

Satikar Committee President Arrested from Mukerian:

As per reports in media, Mukerian police has arrested Satkar committee local unit president Bhai Davinder Singh Khalsa.

Bhai Davinder Singh Khalsa had expressed his dissent with the police narrative on Patiala Sabzi Mandi incident. Media reports say that he had expressed his opinion in a video.

Facebookie Admin Arrested by Mukerian Police for Sharing Video:

The Mukerian police also arrested a youngster who had shared a video of Bhai Davinder Singh Khalsa on his facebook wall.

Arm Twisting by Punjab Police Against MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains:

The Punjab police on Tuesday withdrew security of Lok Insaaf Party MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains. Notably, the MLA was the only person from Punjab’s elected political leaders who had raised questions about the state’s policing policy and called upon the police to introspect in the wake of the Patiala Sabzi Mandi incident. He had termed the incident as a reflection of public resentment against police excesses on people under the garb of curfew.

MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains [File Photo]

Punjab police claimed that the police personnel deployed in the security of Simarjeet Singh Bains have expressed their wish to not to continue in their current assignment as they were apparently hurt by the statement of Simarjeet Singh Bains on Patiala Sabzi Mandi incident but Simarjeet Singh Bains said that the security personnel were pressurized to sign a pre written paper. He claimed to have a phone call recording with him, in which the concerned security personnel can be heard telling his staff that they were pressurized to sign the paper.

Crackdown Part of Policy to Contain Narrative:

It would be a mistake to think that Punjab police’s current crackdown against the expression of dissent has emerged out of the blue.

As mainstream media in Punjab, with a few exceptions, has repeatedly shown a tendency to limit its reporting to just reiteration of official versions, it is the social media which provides space for people’s narrative.

Punjab police has already been perturbed by the social media’s potential to build a counter narrative and their concern is evident from a recent statement from Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta who had termed the social media as a major challenge (FOR DETAILS AND ANALYSIS SEEWhy Punjab Police DGP Dinkar Gupta Sees Social Media As A Major Challenge? – A Brief Analysis).

The present crackdown must be viewed in this backdrop to have a better understanding of it.


Police crackdown has evoked mixed impact.

One of the opinionist platforms on Facebook announced a break in wake of police crackdown on social-media reporters. Announcing ‘Rukavat Lai Khed Hai’ (Reget for Break), Mehkma Punjabi said: “We are silent. You may be thinking that whether we are afraid? Answer is yes, we are afraid. We have only words, the police have authority to use force, weapons and power to file cases. We believe that in a contest between words and weapons, words are bound to lose. Armed police and government have many ways to stifle the voices of the unarmed”. “We say it openly that we are silent due to fear of cases”, reads a statement by Mehkma Punjabi.

Some other Facebookie opinionists had removed their posts about Patiala Sabzi Mandi incident after learning about news of arrests and police cases.

But on the other hand, a number of people have criticised police tactics while continuing to express their opinion, including their viewpoints on Sunday’s Patiala Sabzi Mandi incident.

These opinionists not only questioned police’s reaction to Patiala Sabzi Mandi incident, but also raised questions about ‘humiliating behaviour’ of police when images and photographs emerged over social media that arrested Nihang Singhs were presented bareheaded in the court.

Yesterday, a number of people expressed their resentment over suspected custodial torture of arrested Nihang Singhs as visuals of their court appearance show that they were not even able to walk property.

Journalist Yadwinder Karfew Condemns Arrest of Journalist Bhupinder Singh:

Journalist Yadwinder Karfew [File Photo]

In a statement, TV journalist and deputy news editor of News18 Punjab Yadwinder Karfew condemned arrest of Apna Sanjha Punjab TV journalist Bhupinder Singh by Punjab police. (READ MOREJournalist Yadwinder Karfew Condemns Case Against Journalist Bhupinder Singh Sajjan).

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