A protest against the blackout of a Punjabi news channel took a violent turn here today as the police canecharged Team Insaaf members, led by Independent MLA Simarjit Singh Bains. In the ensuing scuffle, Simarjit’s turban was tossed, following which the protesters pelted the cops with stones.

Later, the police arrested 15 persons, including Simarjit, under sections 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 353, 354, 334, 323, 179, 186, 148 and 149 of the IPC.Team Insaaf alleged that a private cable network, Fastway, had blocked the channel as it had aired Simarjit’s views against the Badal family and Cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia.Simarjit claimed that Fastway was muzzling the media by blocking channels that aired views against the Badal government. A confrontation took place outside the Grand Walk Mall, which houses the cable network’s office.

The sloganeering protesters managed to make their way past the police barricade. Simarjit entered the building, where he was intercepted by a police team. Later, the cops resorted to a canecharge. A reporter for an English daily was hit twice by a policeman. Journalists filed a complaint against the cop at the Sarabha Nagar police station, but no FIR had been registered till the filing of this report.Simarjit’s brother Balwinder Singh Bains, also an Independent MLA, managed to escape police action.Meanwhile, Fastway refuted the Bains brothers’ allegations on the blackout of Zee Punjabi. Fastway CEO Piyush Mahajan clarified that Zee channels in the paid category were available at new rates fixed by the Zee group.