It appeared as if there was a competition between the cops and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) activists to outnumber each other. Being extra cautious, the Punjab Police had deployed nearly 10,500 cops to not let AAP volunteers enter Chandigarh and they successfully did so. And there were about 4,500 Chandigarh Police personnel deployed on the UT side to back up their Punjab counterparts. The protest rally was attended by nearly 15,000 AAP activists.
The rally venue was Dussehra ground in Phase 8 and soon the AAP volunteers laid siege to the nearby roads and there were major traffic diversions.
Residents suffered for more than five hours owing to traffic diversions. The worst-affected were the office-goers and schoolchildren. The school buses of the Yadavindra Public School remained stuck in the traffic jam for 15 minutes before they were escorted by the police. Most of the main roads in and around Phase 7 were closed.
“The entire road had been blocked for no reason. I had to virtually plead the cops to let me go as there was some emergency at home. They had blocked entry from near the Chawla Nursing Home,” said Gurpreet Kaur, a resident of Phase 7.
“Not only main roads were blocked, buses were parked on roadsides in localities, leading to congestion,” said Anu Sharma, another resident of Phase 7, who had to struggle her way back home after picking her children.
An ambulance also got stuck in the jam for nearly 20 minutes. There were also complaints of people losing their valuables to pick pockets. As soon as the rally got over, beer sold like hot cakes at liquor vends in Mohali.
Anticipating that AAP volunteers may resort to stone-pelting, the administration overnight got all the stones around the rally venue. Special teams were deployed to ensure that the area is cleared of stones.
NO BUSES ALLOWED UP TO THE VENUE
Unlike other rallies, buses ferrying volunteers were reportedly stopped kilometres away from the venue. “We had to walk up to 10 km to reach the venue,” said Ritesh Sharma, an AAP volunteer from Sangrur.
“The bus-owners refused to ferry us to Mohali as they apprehended harassment at the hands of police. So, most volunteers came in private vehicles,” said another volunteer, Manjit Singh from Ludhiana.
SCORCHING HEAT, NO TENT
The AAP volunteers were not permitted to set up a tent and activists were seen braving the scorching heat. Soon, the activists were seen looking for shade and took refuge under the trees around the venue. Some were even sleeping under the trees as many had reached the venue as early as 3am. Volunteers were seen covering their heads with wet clothes.
BRISK BUSINESS FOR LIMEWATER SELLERS
The rally came as opportunity for 16-year-old Ramesh, who had set up a limewater stall near the YPS Chowk, to make some money. “I earned good profits as people made a beeline for lemonade,” he said, adding he sold 100 glasses in just 30 minutes against the 50 glasses he used to sell throughout the day on normal days.