Chandigarh, May 27 (PTI) Senior AAP leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira was today stopped by the police from reaching a a spot close to a sugar factory of Congress leader Rana Gurjit, with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh accusing him of trying “trespass” into the factory in Batala. Also Read - 355th Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti Today | Know All About 10th Guru of Sikhs, His Teachings Here

According to some reports, residents of Buttar Sivian village were angry with a nearby sugar mill for allegedly discharging nauseating blackish waste into a drain close by. Also Read - Mirzapur Live: Robber Shot Dead in Police Encounter at Marriage Hall in Punjab's Tarn Taran, 4 Nabbed

The mill, however, has denied the allegation. Also Read - IRCTC Latest News: India's First Rajdhani Express With Pull-push Technology to Run Daily From Tuesday | Check Timings, Route

Khaira said that he wanted to inspect the drain, but was stopped along the way.

Today’s incident came close on the heels of a large number of fish found dead in the Beas on May 17 after molasses from another sugar factory leaked into the river in Punjab’s Beas town, about 40 km from Amritsar.

Khaira, who had vociferously raised the issue of spillage of molasses into the Beas River, today claimed that the police were under political pressure and had not allowed him to visit the spot in Batala.

A police officer told Khaira that they apprehend that his marching to the spot may affect peace in the area. On being disallowed, Khaira raised slogans against the Congress government.

“I only have to visit a particular spot and tell the people of Punjab about the situation as I see it. We are not here to break any law,” Khaira said while asking the police to let him proceed.

“Rather than stopping me today, the Amarinder Singh government should have woken up after the recent catastrophic molasses leakage incident. I was going there (Batala) in a peaceful manner, I did not break any law. The issue is of vital public interest, how could they stop me,” Khaira said about the police action.

He said, “As the Leader of Opposition, it is my moral responsibility to check if the sugar factory is polluting water in the area. People approached me complaining that that they were facing a lot of problems.” “Media reports also highlighted the issue… I have decided that wherever people of Punjab inform me that ground water is being polluted by a sugar mill or a distillery or a paper mill or any industry, I will go there and inspect it,” the AAP leader said.

However, the chief minister warned that any attempt by the Aam Aadmi Party leader to take law in his hands would be dealt with according to law.

Accusing Khaira of indulging in cheap politics ahead of the Shahkot Assembly bypoll tomorrow, Amarinder Singh said, “It is obvious that AAP leaders had not learnt their lessons from their series of ignominious electoral defeats not just in Punjab but across the country.” “Khaira’s trespass bid amounted to sheer violation of the law, with the potential to trigger violence,” the chief minister said in a statement, adding neither the police nor his government would allow anyone to indulge in such “criminal actions to promote their vested political interests”.

AAP has a history of resorting to theatrics in the run-up to any election and Khaira’s act had exposed his party’s desperation “in the face of their imminent wipe-out in the Shahkot bypoll”, Amarinder Singh said.

Asserting that as the leader of the opposition, it was Kahira’s responsibility to uphold the law and not defy it, the chief minister said, “Khaira has behaved extremely irresponsibly with his shameless act.” “Unfortunately, the AAP has always promoted a culture of lawlessness which every party leader had emulated and continued to follow, refusing to acknowledge that such acts inevitably backfired on them,” Amarinder Singh alleged.

Reacting to the chief minister’s statement, Khaira tweeted, “If raising the issue of contaminated water leading to cancer n hepatitis is an attempt to gain publicity @capt_amarinder then so be it, Ill continue this struggle to its logical end-khaira (sic).”

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.