Kejriwal’s narrow escape as car attacked; Punjab orders probe


Ludhiana, Feb 29 (IANS) Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had a narrow escape on Monday when the vehicle he was travelling in was attacked with stones and sticks by some men near Ludhiana in Punjab. Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal ordered a probe into the incident.

Pointing an accusing finger at the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said the attack was a “conspiracy hatched by the Akalis to kill Kejriwal”. The AAP held Badal responsible for the attack.

Kejriwal, who ended his five-day tour of Punjab on Monday, tweeted that his car was attacked with batons and stones, shattering its windscreen.

Police said the chief minister, who enjoys Z-plus security cover, was safe and escorted from the spot.

Kejriwal was seated alongside the driver in an Innova multi-utility vehicle when the attack took place. He was immediately shifted to another car and driven away.

“The attack lasted for 3-4 minutes. There were about 30-40 people who carried out the attack,” a police official present at the spot told IANS.

Senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh demanded a high-level probe by a high court judge into the attack.

“It was a well-planned conspiracy hatched by Akalis to eliminate Kejriwal, who has emerged as ‘masiha’ for the people of Punjab,” he said.

He alleged that the attack took place at Sukhbir Badal’s behest.

“The presence of Harkinder Singh, younger brother of Ludhiana MLA Manpreet Singh Ayali, apart from Youth Akali leaders Amandeep Singh Aulakh and Prabhdeep Singh Mangat, is enough indication for the conspiracy by Akalis to ‘kill’ Kejriwal,” the AAP leader said.

He accused the Punjab Police of being “hand-in-glove in the conspiracy”, saying they “deliberately guided the convoy to an unscheduled route on the pretext of safety where more than 100 goons were waiting for the attack”.

On his part, Kejriwal tweeted earlier: “Badals and Congress nervous? They can’t break my spirits.”

AAP leader Ashish Khetan called it a “well orchestrated attack” and said the “goons sent by the Badals attacked Kejriwal’s car with stones and rods as the police stood by”.

“The attackers came within an inch of grievously injuring Kejriwal. It was only by god’s grace that he escaped unhurt.”

Condemning the incident, Sukhbir Badal, who is also Punjab’s home minister, said due action would be taken against the attackers.

“I have directed the police to register a case against the stone pelters and take action immediately,” he said in a statement.

Badal directed the Punjab DGP to inquire if there was any lapse on the part of the security apparatus provided to the AAP leader.

“The Punjab government is committed to providing adequate security to Kejriwal during his visits to Punjab,” he said. He denied that the Akali Dal was behind the attack.

Kejriwal was on a five-day tour of Punjab, where the AAP has emerged as a major player. The Punjab assembly polls are scheduled for February next year.

The AAP leadership pointed out that BJP supporters held a protest at the venue while the Akali Dal workers attacked Kejriwal’s motorcade.

Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh said the Congress had nothing to do with the attack.

During his visit to Punjab last month, the Punjab government did not provide security to Kejriwal while he was travelling back to Delhi.