The Akali Dal leader and a minister for NRI affairs in Prakash Singh Badal’s government in Punjab, Tota Singh, was attacked by shoe in New York on Saturday, according to reports.
Singh, who’s currently visiting the US and Canada to garner support from the Indian Punjabi diaspora for 2017 assembly election, was about to address a function at Richmond Hill in the Queens borough when this incident happened.
According to the rights group Sikhs for Justice, Singh was surrounded by hundreds of angry Sikh youths, who began protesting outside the venue. They were protesting against the Badal government’s ‘inability to take actions against those police officials who were involved in the extra-judicial killings of Sikhs’ during Khalistan movement in early 1990s.
Alarmed by the deteriorating situation, the organisers called for police help. The New York police later arrested two youths for attacking Singh.
One of the organisers of the protest rally, Himmat Singh told PTI, “We will not allow SAD (Badal) leaders to visit America and challenge those Sikhs who oppose Akali policies and have taken political asylum for their political views.”
Akali Dal described this incident as an act of frustration by those with ‘vested interests.’ However, the opposition Congress party said that the attack on Tota Singh was a “manifestation of the anger that NRI Punjabis, particularly the Sikhs, have against Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his government” for their “hollow promises” and “failure” on all fronts.
Punjab is scheduled to go for crucial assembly polls in 2017 with Akali Dal, Congress and a resurgent Aaam Aadmi Party eyeing to from the government here.