National / World

Senior Punjab IAS officer assaulted in Uttarakhand

Chandigarh, Jun 25 (IANS): A senior Punjab-cadre IAS officer, Kahan Singh Pannu, was allegedly assaulted by a group of stranded pilgrims from Punjab at Gobind Ghat in Uttarakhand after both sides got into a heated argument over shifting of the pilgrims to another place, reports reaching here said.

Video footage of the incident showed Pannu being manhandled and later being assaulted by the angry people.

During the alleged assault, Pannu's turban was thrown from his head and he was hit with bare hands, shoes and even a broom by the assaulters. The assault took place Sunday.

Pannu was virtually chased, as seen in the video, by the assaulters. He could be seen arguing with the protestors initially. Later, he folded his hands before them and even sat on the road to save himself.

The officer was later saved by a group of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel who rushed to see the commotion.

A Punjab police constable in uniform, who was also seen in the video, did nothing to save the officer.

Sources in the government said that initial reports suggested that Pannu had told the pilgrims that they would be taken to Joshimath and then transported back to Punjab.

Following an argument, there was a heated exchange between Pannu and others. The pilgrims alleged that the officer used abusive language.

Pannu is a special secretary and director general for school education (DGSE) and was chosen by the Punjab government last week to lead a team of senior officers to monitor Punjab's efforts in rescue and relief operations in the calamity-hit Uttarakhand state.

Thousands of pilgrims from Punjab were stranded at various places in Uttarakhand last week following cloudburst, massive landslides and flash floods there.

The state government claimed that over 5,000 pilgrims from Punjab to Uttarakhand had been evacuated from the hill state. The pilgrims had gone to the Sikh shrine of Hemkund Sahib.

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