Chandigarh, Jul 10 (PTI) A large number of commuters going towards Haryana and Delhi had a harrowing time today as Haryana’s main opposition party INLD’s workers blocked the entry of vehicles coming from Punjab at several places.
The vehicles were stopped, including on the Delhi-Ambala highway, as part of a day-long protest by the INLD over the SYL issue.
Despite the police assuring a smooth flow of traffic, hapless commuters could be seen facing harassment with the blockade of roads at different places including Shambhu toll plaza near the Ambala-Shambhu border, Lalru -Chandigarh road and Dabwali on Haryana-Punjab border.
Seeking construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal to get Haryana’s share of water, INLD leaders and workers squatted on the roads, placed tyres and even parked their own vehicles and tractors at several places to disrupt vehicular movement in an over five-hour long protest.
“I faced a lot of problem in reaching my destination in Haryana. There was an emergency because of a death in the family. We were forced to pass through villages to reach the destination,” rued a man in a car near the Shambhu border.
After blocking the way, INLD workers gave flowers to commuters with a message that they should ask Punjab government to give water to Haryana.
Police said traffic snarls were also witnessed at six places – two at the Ambala-Chandigarh national highway, two in Fatehabad and one each in Jind and Sirsa districts.
Led by senior INLD leaders including party general secretary and Leader of Opposition, Abhay Chautala, INLD activists gathered at various protest points in the morning.
They forced closure of the Shambhu toll plaza near the Ambala-Shambhu border disrupting movement of traffic, following which Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel were deployed at the site.
Punjab’s Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) did not ply its Haryana and Delhi-bound buses in the wake of protest.
The INLD held protest at many points from 10 am till 3 pm, including the Lalru-Chandigarh road, Ambala-Shambhu border, village Datasinghwala of Narwana constituency in Jind district, Ratia-Budlahada road (Jakhal point) in Fatehabad district and Dabwali on Haryana-Punjab border.
The party claimed that their protest was peaceful, adding that services of emergency vehicles like ambulances were not stopped.
Haryana and Punjab had deployed security personnel in strength near the protest points to maintain law and order and facilitate traffic.
Amid confusion, traffic diversions were effected at various points.
Meanwhile, Chautala even visited different protest sites and thanked people for their support.
“The Centre and Punjab governments are not ready to accept the Supreme Court verdict on the SYL canal. It is the responsibility of the Centre to get the verdict implemented.
We will get this order implemented by putting pressure on the government to get our share in river water,” a senior INLD leader said.
Calling their protest over water issue as “symbolic and peaceful”, INLD state unit chief Ashok Arora acknowledged that people faced inconvenience because of stopping entry of vehicles.
“We know people faced problems but we are not doing it deliberately. Haryana has been deprived of its share of water for 50 years. We are not begging, rather we are fighting for our right. Our purpose (of protest) was not to cause inconvenience to people but to awake the Centre to get the SYL canal, which is Haryana’s lifeline, constructed,” he said.
He said various political parties in Punjab including the ruling Congress, the SAD-BJP alliance and even AAP were speaking in one voice on the issue.
“But (in Haryana) it is unfortunate that parties like the ruling BJP and even the opposition Congress are not rising above petty political interests on this critical issue,” Arora claimed.
He said the party has not done anything illegal by holding a protest.
“Holding a protest is not wrong. It was peaceful and nobody took the law into their hands,” Arora told reporters in Ambala district.
Asked about next plan of action, Arora said the party will decide about the future course of action on SYL issue in its next meeting.
Meanwhile, Haryana DGP B S Sandhu said the INLD protest remained peaceful and there was no report of any untoward incident.
When asked whether police was considering any legal action against INLD for blocking the national highway, the DGP said they were not.
However, Ambala SP Abhishek Jorwal said a case can be registered for disrupting the traffic on national highway.
“Whatever legal action can be taken will be taken,” Jorwal said.
He said that no permission had been given to INLD for holding a protest on the highway.
Police had made extensive security arrangements to deal with any law and order situation. Surveillance was also maintained through drone cameras. Four Companies of paramilitary forces were deployed in Haryana while 1,000 Punjab police personnel were deployed to maintain law and order.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had accused the INLD of doing politics on the SYL issue.
Former Haryana Chief Minister and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda termed the INLD’s protest as “political drama”.
Punjab has been maintaining that it does not have surplus water to share with Haryana.
In November last year, the court had thwarted Punjab’s attempt to wriggle out of the SYL water sharing pact, saying it cannot “unilaterally” terminate it or legislate to “nullify” the verdict of the highest court.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.