A BJP leader was injured in a brawl between Pathankot district party leaders and employees of a toll plaza at the Mansar barrier on the Pathankot-Jalandhar national highway in Mukerian sub-division of Hoshiarpur district late Friday night.
Even as the injured was shifted to a Mukerian hospital for treatment, some BJP workers allegedly roughed up the toll plaza employees on Saturday in retaliation to last night's incident, following which the latter suspended collection of toll tax.
Tension prevailed after BJP workers held a protest near the toll collection centre, following which the authorities ordered the staff to stop collection of the tax. It was learnt that toll barrier employees had since left the spot, leaving it unattended after the protest by BJP workers.
A report from Hoshiarpur said that the BJP workers' sit-in led by former Punjab BJP president Ashwani Sharma since late Friday night continued on Saturday as well. It was finally lifted around 5pm after sub-divisional magistrate Rahul Chaba ordered temporary closure of the toll barrier and ensured action against the erring staff.
According to BJP district president Narinder Parmar, he and other party leaders were returning from Kotkapura in Faridkot district when they stopped at the toll plaza and showed the return journey slip at a toll booth. He claimed that while their second vehicle in which office secretary Arun Kumar was sitting, was passing through, the staff lowered the barrier which hit the vehicle's bonnet and injured Kumar. He said that when they objected, the toll staff attacked them and injured Arun, who was rushed to Mukerian hospital.
"We are protesting against this highhandedness of the toll booth employees and want them to be booked," he said.
On the other hand, toll plaza office incharge Sanjay Kumar maintained that the boom bar was automatic and came down on its own once a vehicle passed through. He claimed that when one of the BJP leader's vehicle passed, they were asked to wait for the barrier to lift again. But since they were in a hurry to pass through, their vehicle was hit and they blamed our employees for the incident and thrashed them, Sanjay alleged.
He said that the matter was resolved as they arranged for the injured to be shifted to hospital and called police.
Sanjay said that police whisked away toll plaza employees and asked for a stop on collection of toll tax. However, he claimed, BJP leaders arrived with more supporters later and thrashed toll plaza staff. "We informed the matter to our project director Bipnesh Sharma, who got our men freed. Around Saturday noon, the BJP men again arrived in large numbers and beat up our men. We stopped collection of toll tax and are waiting for instruction from our seniors," he added.
BJP activists block Jalandhar-Pathankot highway
BJP workers led by former Punjab BJP president Ashwani Sharma blocked the Jalandhar-Pathankot national highway on Saturday to protest the alleged beating of their colleague by toll plaza employees. Police official tried to pacify the protesters but they insisted on registration of a criminal case against the company owner and his employees. Later, SDM Rahul Chaba reached the spot and promised action against the erring persons. He also asked the toll authorities to suspend collection of tax till the matter was sorted out.