The protests by jewellers across Punjab against 1% excise duty on gold ornaments got a political colour on Saturday with leaders of the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) joining the protesters.
In Ludhiana, as the cavalcade of more than 1,000 jewellers led by district Congress president Gurpreet Gogi and AAP member of Parliament from Sangrur Bhagwant Mann advanced towards Ladhowal Toll Plaza on National Highway-1, a posse of 400 cops led by deputy commissioner of police Narinder Bhargav canecharged them at Ladhowal Chowk when Mann was addressing the gathering from atop a truck.
Mann, Gogi and Congress MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu, along with several others, were detained by the police for more than three hours as a preventive measure. The injured were admitted to Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH).
In Amritsar, backed by Congress leaders, city jewellers staged a protest at the Hall Gate, where they raised slogans against the Modi government and burnt an effigy of Union finance minister Arun Jaitley.
In Jalandhar, members of the Punjab Youth Congress (PYC) supported the agitating members of goldsmiths’ body by burning an effigy of the Modi government at the Company Bagh Chowk.
In Patiala, Patiala (rural) MLA Brahm Mohindra and other Congress leaders came out in support of the jewellers. Meanwhile, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Capt Amarinder Singh demanded rollback of the excise duty on jewellery. In a statement, Amarinder said the Congress fully endorsed and supported jewellers’ demand.
Congress legislature party leader Charanjit Singh Channi condemned the lathi charge by the Punjab Police on the protesting jewellers in Ludhiana.