Grenade attack at religious gathering in Punjab kills 3, CM announces Rs 5 lakh compensation to kin

Chandigarh: On Sunday, at least three people were killed and 10 others were injured when a grenade exploded at a religious gathering in Punjab’s Amritsar district, police said.

Two youths, their faces covered, rode to the venue of the Nirankari sect’s congregation in Rajasansi area, flung the grenade and escaped, a police officer said.

“Out of 250 people who were present in the religious congregation, 3 dead & 15-20 injured. As per initial reports, 2 people had come over here who lobbed a grenade here,” IG (Border) Surinder Pal Singh Parmar told ANI.

The incident took place inside the Nirankari Bhavan at Adliwal village near Amritsar’s Rajasansi, police said.

Punjab was on high alert following an input claiming that “a group of six to seven JeM terrorists were reportedly in the state, possibly in Ferozepur area. The state was put on alert after four persons snatched an SUV from its driver at gunpoint near Madhopur in Pathankot district last week. The intelligence alert was reportedly issued by the IGP, counter intelligence, Punjab, on November 14.

“It (this incident) appears to have a terror angle. Because it is against a group (of people) and it is not against any individual. There is no reason to throw a hand grenade on a group of people, so we will take it as a terrorist act. Till proven otherwise, prima facie we will take it as that,” Punjab Director General of Police Suresh Arora told news agency PTI.

Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh reviewed the law and order situation in the state in the wake of the grenade attack on the outskirts of Amritsar city.

The Punjab CM tweeted, “Strongly condemn the bomb blast at Nirankari Bhawan in Amritsar. Have asked Home Secy and @PunjabPoliceInd DGP, DGP Intelligence and DGP Law & Order to rush to the spot to investigate.”

He said Singh announced Rs 5 lakh as compensation for the kin of the dead and free treatment for the injured.

While reviewing the law and order situation, Singh directed the Home Secretary, DGP, DG (Law and Order) and DG Intelligence to rush to Rajasansi in Amritsar to supervise investigations, an official spokesman said here.
On the directions of the chief minister, security has been strengthened at all Nirankari Bhawans in the state, the spokesman said.

How political leaders reacted to the attack:

Union cabinet minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal launched a sharp attack on chief minister Amarinder Singh. “When will you and your ministers stop encouraging elements bent on disturbing hard won peace? Stop playing politics and get down to serious governance. Punjabis don’t want to go back into dark era,” she tweeted.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal condemned the attack, and called it cowardly.

“Heartfelt condolences to families of people who lost their lives and wishing quick recovery to those who got injured in today’s #NirankariBhawan attack,” said BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain.

“Deeply anguished by death of innocent people in grenade attack in Amritsar in Punjab today. It’s a reprehensible act of violence. My condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones in this attack&prayers for speedy recovery of the injured,” tweeted Home Minster Rajnath Singh.

“My condolences are with families of those who lost lives in this incident. It is an attempt to disturb peace in Punjab. I believe all the security agencies should stay alert and coordinate with each other to maintain peace,”  Sunil Jakhar, Punjab Congress chief.

(With inputs from Agencies)