A police officer’s hand was chopped off and two other officers were injured when a group of people attacked them at a vegetable market in Punjab’s Patiala district this morning. The police said they were attacked when they were trying to ensure the lockdown was in place. Punjab – where thousands of people staying abroad returned after the outbreak started – has extended the lockdown till May 1.
The officer whose hand was chopped off — Assistant Sub-Inspector of Police Harjeet Singh — went through a surgery that lasted nearly eight hours. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh tweeted the surgery to “repair the severed wrist of ASI Harjeet Singh” was successful.
Punjab police chief Dinkar Gupta told NDTV that a vehicle carrying Nihangs – a religious sect – had “crashed through several barricades on the periphery of the vegetable market” around 6 am. When the police team stopped them and demanded to see their curfew passes, the lockdown violators attacked the police party, he said.
After the attackers fled to the Nihang Gurdwara Saheb, the police went there with reinforcements, which included personnel from the Special Operations Group and asked the attackers to surrender.
“After a two-hour stand-off, a team of mediators headed by the local sarpanch, entered the gurdwara. After another half an hour the perpetrators surrendered. They came out carrying swords and knives. The police also recovered gas cylinders which could have been used as explosives,” Mr Gupta told NDTV.
Top officers said 11 persons involved in the attack have been arrested.
On Friday, announcing the lockdown extension, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said most of the new cases reported were those of secondary transmission. There were indications of his state “moving into” the community transmission stage of the outbreak, he added.
Community transmission is the stage 3 of the virus transmission, when it becomes impossible to trace the source, due to which there is a surge in infections.
The Centre, however, says the transmission in India has not reached that stage and it is still possible to identify, isolate and treat the source.
The state has seen 158 cases of the highly infectious disease. The figure includes five people who have recovered and 11 who are dead.