Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday said the grenade attack in Amritsar a day earlier in which three persons were killed was a “clear case of terrorism” and hinted at the possibility of Pakistan’s involvement, reported ANI. Singh said the state has been put on high alert.
He said the attack appeared to have been carried out by separatists with the involvement of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence-backed Khalistani or Kashmiri terrorist groups, PTI reported. “The grenade attack at the Nirankari Bhawan seemed to carry Pakistan’s signature, with initial investigations indicating that the grenade used was similar to the ones being manufactured by the Pakistani Army Ordnance factory,” Singh said.
The state administration has offered a Rs 50 lakh reward for information on the perpetrators. The chief minister said the injured were being administered free medical treatment and will receive Rs 50,000 each as relief. The kin of the deceased will be given jobs, he said.
Asked if Khalistani militant groups were behind the attack, Singh said there had been reports of a few militants arriving in the state from Jammu. However, the chief minister did not specify who they were. “Our police is on alert,” he said. “In this case, the National Investigation Agency is also here. Till the investigation is complete, it will be difficult to say anything [about who is responsible].”
“Police are following up on leads and I am hopeful that we will catch these people [who are responsible for the attack],” Times Now quoted Singh as saying after he visited the attack site. “This is a clear case of terrorism [and] we will deal with it.”
A three-member team of the National Investigation Agency arrived at the site on Monday, according to ANI. Three people were killed and at least 20 were wounded in the attack at the Nirankari Bhawan in Adliwala village on Sunday afternoon. The Nirankaris are followers of an independent spiritual movement who claim to be unaffiliated with any religion and reject the authority of Sikhs.
The Sant Nirankari Mandal issued a statement expressing solidarity with the victims, PTI reported. The community has sent a team to visit the families of the deceased and injured, the organisation said.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the security situation across the country, and particularly in Punjab, on Monday, PTI reported. An unidentified official in the Home Ministry said Singh has directed officials to assist the state government with the investigation.
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju condemned the attack. “In last four years there has been no incident like this in any major city, except border areas like Pathankot and Uri,” ANI quoted him as saying. “We will not spare the perpetrators.”
Criticism for state government
Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal said the chief minister should be held accountable for the attack and accused him of “hobnobbing with radicals who are hell-bent” on creating unrest in the state, according to a PTI report. “I squarely blame Captain Amarinder Singh for the terror activity, as there is a conspiracy of supporting and encouraging radicals,” Badal said. “Today, he is responsible for what happened in Amritsar.”
The chief minister said security personnel have been deployed near important buildings and installation. Police posts have been set up and patrol teams have been deployed to monitor suspicious activities.
In addition, the state has asked the district and police administrations to consider installing close circuit television cameras at strategic points.
CM dismisses parallels to 1978 Nirankari conflict
Singh rejected queries about links between Sunday’s incident and the violence that broke out between the Sant Nirankari Mission and Sikhs in 1978 in Amritsar, PTI reported. On April 13 that year, a clash between followers of the Sant Nirankari Mission and Sikhs had left 13 people dead. More violence and attacks had followed.
The chief minister said the 1978 incident was a religious clash and Sunday’s attack was a “terror attack”.