Earlier today, clashes erupted in Punjab’s Patiala after Khalistani supporters attacked a protest march called ‘Khalistan Murdabad’ in opposition to an announcement made by SFJ chief, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who had given a call to observe ‘Khalistan Sthapna Diwas’ to his followers.
As tensions gripped the city, political party Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) found itself in the eye of a raging storm as the Khalistan supporters ran amok, hurling stones, brandishing swords at the ‘Khalistan Murdabad’ rally, and allegedly desecrating the Ma Kali Temple in Patiala.
Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) is the Punjab unit of Shiv Sena, a regional party from Maharashtra. Harish Singla, who claims to be the working president of Sena’s Punjab unit, on Friday said the party had launched an anti-Khalistan march that came under attack from pro-Khalistan sympathisers and supporters.
‘Khalistan Murdabad’ march was carried out by Harish Singla in his personal capacity, the party has no role in it: Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) state chief Yograj Sharma
However, Yograj Sharma, the state chief of the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray), stated that his party was not behind the ‘Khalistan Murdabad’ march and asserted that it was carried out by Harish Singla in his personal capacity. He further added that Singla has been expelled for “anti-party activities” after orders from party chief Uddhav Thackeray, youth wing chief Aditya Thackeray and national secretary Anil Desai.
OpIndia spoke to Mr Yograj Sharma, who reiterated his stand that his party had nothing to do with the anti-Khalistan march organised in Patiala earlier today. He said the march which saw violence was organised by Singla in his personal capacity and not by the party. He also said that police were already informed in advance that the party had nothing to do with the call given by Harish Singla and that it was Singla’s personal programme and not a party programme.
“We had already informed the police that we have got nothing to do with the march and if god forbid, any untoward incident takes place, our party won’t be responsible for it. About 10 days ago, I had written to the police to inform them about our party stand,” Sharma told OpIndia.
Shiv Sena Bal Thakeray had expelled Harish Singla, in the centre of storm today in Patiala, a day after he had announced program for today. Patiala Police was also informed about this decision.— Kamaldeep Singh ਬਰਾੜ (@kamalsinghbrar) April 29, 2022
“However, the police did not do anything to stop the anti-Khalistan march. I went to meet higher officials in Chandigarh three days ago, asking them to not allow the march to take place, but they did not take any action,” Sharma further added.
Talking about Singla’s expulsion from the party, Sharma said, “We got orders from the party high command to expel Harish Singla for indulging in anti-party activities.”
The call for the anti-Khalistan march was announced 15 days ago: Harish Singla
But Singla says Sharma has no right to “expel” him. “As chief of the Sena in Punjab, he can only induct new members but cannot expel a senior leader like me,” Singla was quoted as saying by the Indian Express.
For his part, Singla asserts that the call for the anti-Khalistan march was announced 15 days ago after Gurpatwant Singh Pannu of SFJ had urged his followers to observe “Khalistan Sthapna Diwas at district police offices in Haryana.”
“We had organised a ‘Khalistan Murdabad’ march to mark our protest against a minuscule section of people who are still harbouring secessionist ideology and support the idea of Khalistan. This march was against proponents of Khalistan who have caused grave pain to the people of Punjab, who were victims of Khalistani terrorism and had lost their loved ones to it. Our protest was against Khalistan and we will never allow Punjab to become Khalistan,” Sangla said while speaking to OpIndia.
According to political observers, factionalism is the distinctive feature of Shiv Sena’s presence in Punjab, where leaders with sufficient political heft form their own coteries to advance their personal agendas. Reports claim that there are several factions of Shiv Sena currently active in Punjab, namely, Shiv Sena (Kesri), Shiv Sena (Bhagwa), Shiv Sena (Taksali), Shiv Sena Punjab, Rashtravadi Shiv Sena, Shiv Sena (Amritsar), Shiv Sena (Inquilab), Shiv Sena (Hind) and the Shiv Sena (Hindustan).