Chandigarh: The official brief of Punjab Police may be to be a saviour of those affected by crime but the force itself seems to be at the receiving end these days - from leaders of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal.
In the latest incident, senior police officer S.S. Mand was allegedly assaulted by Youth Akali Dal (YAD) leader Maninder Pal Singh, alias Sunny Goodwill Johar, and his accomplices at a leading night club in Ludhiana city Monday night. Mand, an assistant inspector general (AIG), was at the night club with his NRI friend, who was also beaten.
Mand had to be rushed to a leading private hospital and had to undergo surgery on his injured leg.
The Akali Dal quickly disowned the assaulters, saying that Sunny Johar and two other accomplices had been expelled in May for "anti-party activities".
Opposition Congress leaders claimed that the assaulters were close to Punjab's Revenue Minister and YAD president Bikram Singh Majithia, who is brother-in-law of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.
The Congress, not very long ago, used to blame Punjab Police for playing into the hands of the Akali Dal leadership to register "false cases" against Congress leaders across the state. But now, the Congress is supporting the police against the onslaught of the Akalis.
An assistant sub-inspector (ASI) of Punjab police, Ravinder Pal Singh, was shot dead near Amritsar in early December after he objected to an Akali Dal leader harassing his daughter. The Akali Dal leader, Ranjit Singh Rana, was arrested by police and expelled by the party.
"Law and order has collapsed in Punjab. The state is heading for anarchy," said Punjab Congress president and former chief minister Amarinder Singh.
In another incident Dec 9, home guard Gurnam Singh was roughed up and his uniform was torn by the nephew of a YAD leader in the border town of Gurdaspur. The victim had dared to stop the car of the Akali leader's nephew that had hit another car.
Majithia defended himself by saying that the incidents involving the police officers could not be linked to him.
"I cannot be held responsible for the actions of Akali Dal workers. I have nothing to do with all this," said Majithia, who was recently seen in video footage using abusive language against a Congress legislator inside the Punjab assembly.
In Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's home district Muktsar, a woman constable was harassed by some men this week during a function in Kot Bhai village. When her senior officer intervened, he was beaten up by those men.
Last year, a senior Punjab Police officer had alleged that he was facing a life threat from some political leaders and smugglers, who had a nexus.
Amidst all this, Sukhbir Badal has been blaming the central government for a "total law and order breakdown in the country", after the recent gangrape of a young woman in a bus in south Delhi.
On the defensive over the attacks on Punjab Police officers by its cadres, Akali Dal treasurer N.K. Sharma has come out with his own spin.
Blaming the Congresss for a "deep-rooted conspiracy" in the attack on Mand in Ludhiana, Sharma said that the incident "has been carried out by the expelled leaders of the party who have been paid by the Congress to do so".
He claimed that the Congress wanted to scuttle the news of its sitting legislator Joginderpal Jain joining the Akali Dal.
He said that "the agenda the Congress party was to adopt diversionary tactics to shift the focus of television channels away from Delhi. Earlier they requested Sachin Tendulkar to pay the cost for nomination to the Rajya Sabha by announcing the retirement from one-day cricket when the people's agitation was at its peak".
With such thinking and reasoning, Punjab Police may well need a security cover for itself.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)