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HindustanTimes Fri,11 Jul 2014

'Chakka jam' agitation fails to have much impact in Doaba region

HT Correspondents , Hindustan Times  Jalandhar, January 16, 2014
First Published: 21:10 IST(16/1/2014) | Last Updated: 00:26 IST(17/1/2014)

The call for two-hour 'chakka jaam' agitation by Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) to protest against the alleged involvement of revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia and others in the drug trade, on Thursday, witnessed a mixed success in the Doaba region with the traffic on the all-important national highway-1 remaining unaffected to a great extent during the blockade time.

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At key points, traffic was diverted smartly by the police and grassroots-level party workers in large numbers also failed to join the protest.

In Jalandhar, the protest failed to have much effect as traffic remained undisturbed and passes smoothly through alternative routes and the police did not allow protesters to sit on roads.

The choice of protest points by urban and rural wings of the district Congress in the city also remained questionable as it left plenty of options for the police to divert the traffic on alternative routes.
The protesters also avoided to confront the police arrangements and did not make any serious attempt to block the traffic.

Urban unit president Rajinder Singh Beri and senior Congress leader Avtar Henry tried to sit on a dharna on the national highway at PAP Chowk, but the policemen on duty shifted them to a side of the road, making the road clear for smooth flow of traffic.

Nearly half-a-km away, the attempt of the rural wing president Jagbir Singh Brar to block the traffic was foiled by the police.

Earlier, to stop Congress workers from reaching the protest sites, the police had put up barricades on roads, due to which long queues of vehicles were seen from BSF Chowk to PAP Chowk.

Deputy commissioner of police (DCP) Rahul S was also seen controlling and managing the traffic at the protest site on the national highway and his presence on the spot kept all the policemen on toes for clearing the traffic smoothly.
 
PROTESTERS TAKEN INTO PREVENTIVE CUSTODY

In Kapurthala, party workers, led by district Congress president Navtej Singh Cheema and PPCC spokesperson Sukhpal Singh Khaira, assembled at Subhanpur village and blocked the GT Road between Jalandhar and Amritsar for nearly ten minutes before they were taken into preventive custody by the police and were shifted to the police station. Five buses were used to take away nearly 350 workers present on the site.

"We were told that we had been arrested and were being taken to Bholath police station. But SSP Inderbir Singh denied any arrests. All of a sudden, the buses took a U-turn and dropped us on the Subhanpur  Chowk," Cheema said.

In Phagwara, traffic was blocked on the national highway near the sugar mill and it was one of the rare points where the party managed to block the traffic.


'NUKKAD NATAK' on DRUG MAFIA STAGED

In Hoshiarpur, the protest saw a good number of party workers holding dharnas at two key points. Local MLA and district president Sunder Sham Arora led the protesters at Parbhat Chowk, who blocked traffic from Jalandhar and Tanda sides, whereas PPCC general secretary Raj Kumar and his team laid a siege on the Chandigarh bypass.

To keep the protesters busy and entertained, Raj Kumar had arranged a 'nukkad natak' (street play), which was a satire on the drug mafia and their modus operandi.    
    
Commuters were, however, put to great inconvenience on outer roads of the city but, thanks to a well-conceived plan by the police, no traffic snarls were witnessed inside the town.

Heavy vehicles, which could not be diverted through village routes, were detained at different places on the bypass so that they did not clog the protest sites.

Heavy police force had been deployed to avert any untoward incident.

In Philaur, protesters, led by former minister Santokh Singh Chaudhary, and Punjab Pradesh Youth Congress President Vikramjit Singh Chaudhary blocked traffic for more than two hours at a subway near the national highway.

In Nawanshahr, traffic was blocked on the Nawanshahr-Khanna road at Rahon and Balachaur.

(With inputs from Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahar, Phillaur, Phagwara and Nakodar)

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