Chandigarh, July 10 (IANS) At the cost of virtually harassing common people, Haryana’s main opposition party Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) on Monday went ahead with its one-day symbolic road blockade of vehicles coming into the state from Punjab. The protest ended peacefully, police officials said.
Thousands of commuters faced harassment in sweltering weather as the INLD members, including some women, blocked the national highway near Ambala and four other highways in Haryana as part of their one-day ‘Road Roko Aandolan’ (road blockade protest).
The INLD is seeking immediate construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal in Punjab to bring more water to Haryana.
The Supreme Court has already adjudged the SYL matter in Haryana’s favour but the INLD is seeking immediate implementation of the order through the canal’s construction. The Punjab government used legislation to block the Supreme Court order and even went ahead and handed back the land to farmers from whom it had been acquired nearly four decades ago.
Punjab and Haryana Police diverted traffic through longer routes and village roads, leading to chaos and confusion for the commuters moving from Punjab to Haryana, Delhi and beyond.
The INLD activists started their blockade at five places around 10 a.m. and continued to block the highways till 3 p.m.
“Our fight is for getting water for the farmers and people of Haryana through the SYL canal,” INLD leader Abhay Singh Chautala told media.
Chautala snapped at a journalist in Dabwali town, labelling him as a “government agent”, after he (Chautala) was asked about the harassment caused to common people due to the INLD protest.
“We (people of Haryana) are being harassed for the last 50 years. We will fight for the water. Who had to face harassment (today)?” he retorted angrily.
Harassed commuters from Punjab and other northern states were angry that they had to suffer due to the politics of leaders of Punjab and Haryana.
“We have been forced to suffer for hours in this heat. We don’t know when will we reach our destination. There is a death in the family and we were heading towards Kurukshetra (in Haryana) urgently. The political parties cannot make the common man suffer,” said Jagjit Singh, a resident of Punjab’s Sirhind.
Scores of INLD activists hoodwinked the Haryana Police and central security forces and blocked the NH-1 near Ambala, around 45 km from here.
The protesters blocked the busy highway, that links Delhi with Amritsar, at a point two km away from where they were originally supposed to stop the traffic from Punjab from entering Haryana at the Shambhu barrier.
The activists came to the highway and blocked it with their vehicles, including cars and tractor trolleys. Traffic was also stopped near Dabwali town in Haryana’s Sirsa district.
A police officer in Ambala said that a case would be registered against the protesting INLD workers for blocking the national highway.
The Supreme Court had earlier imposed a ban on blocking of national highways.”We will see the provisions and register a case against them (INLD activists) for blocking the national highway. They did not have the permission to block the highway,” the police officer said.
Hundreds of security personnel from central security forces and the Haryana Police were stationed at all five places along the states’ border in view of the INLD protest.
Senior Haryana Police officers were stationed at the protest points since early on Monday. Haryana Police’s Additional Director General (ADGP) R.C. Mishra monitored the situation at the Shambhu barrier.
Security personnel in riot gear, riot-control vehicles and other equipment were deployed at all points to maintain law and order.
The vehicles were being stopped at five places — the Lalru-Chandigarh stretch on NH-1, near the Ambala-Shambhu border on NH-1, Narwana-Dhanauri border, Ratia-Budhlada road (Jakhal point) in Fatehabad district and Dabwali in Sirsa district.
Emergency vehicles, like ambulances, were exempted from the protest, the INLD leaders said.
Authorities in Punjab decided not to send out buses from state-run companies to Haryana on Monday as a precautionary measure.