The crackdown, according to Punjab DGP Suresh Arora, was launched after the Bathinda administration refused permission for the event. While Baljit Singh Daduwal, the parallel jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, claimed that nearly 1,500 activists were arrested, Arora said, “The factual number of pre-emptive arrests was about 180.”
SAD (Amritsar) had recently moved the bPunjab and Haryana High Court saying the Bathinda administration was not taking any call on the request for permission to organise Sarbat Khalsa at Talwandi Sabo. The state government placed Tapa DSP Raj Kapoor on suspension and asked Patiala DIG to conduct a probe into a high-drama incident in Barnala district on the intervening night where Mann and others were intercepted by an SHO from Bathinda district.
In a video that went viral, the Tapa DSP was seen arriving at the scene following a complaint by Mann and others that SHO Jagjit Singh posted at Thermal Plant PS in Bathinda did not have any jurisdiction in Barnala district.
In the video, the DSP is seen bowing to Mann and taking the SHO to task for troubling everyone, including [Barnala] SSP and him, at odd hours. He then tells Mann that the SP was on his way as Mann complained that the SHO “is drunk, there are liquor bottles in SHO’s official vehicle and that the SHO had beacon lights”.
In the set of two videos, Mann is seen holding SHO by his arm as he and his supporters try to bundle him into a car to take him to Barnala SSP and get him medically examined, alleging that he is drunk. The SHO says he is ready to undergo that. Responding to the DSP’s query, SHO says the beacon lights were in the car as they needed repair.
Bathinda SSP Swapan Sharma said, “There was a statewide crackdown. So, jurisdiction is not much relevant under the given conditions.” Also, claiming that the SHO was not drunk, he stated, “He was doing his duty.” A top police official, said the police were examining legal aspects to see whether any case could be made out against Mann for “preventing a government servant from doing duty”.
Meanwhile, over 20 activists were arrested in Faridkot and eight in Bathinda. Also, SAD(A) US unit president Resham Singh was arrested after he landed at IGI on charges of sedition in connection with last year’s Sarbat Khalsa.