Protesters refuse to relent, block major road links across Punjab

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Oct 18, 2015 23:30 IST
Protesters block National Highway-1 during protests against the state government. (Sameer Sehgal/HT Photo)

Frayed tempers of Sikh protesters, who are infuriated over the alleged desecration of Guru Granth Sahib, showed no signs of abating with agitators, including women, blocking key routes across Punjab on Sunday.

Traffic was thrown out of gear as protesters axed full-grown trees to block roads as the state government continued to remain on the back foot. Police, too, preferred to keep a safe distance from protesters.

The government has opened backdoor channels of communication with certain hardliners to persuade protesters to call off their stir. A breakthrough, however, appeared bleak as the agitation is not being spearheaded under a single banner.

Behind every blockade, there are multiple outfits, making it difficult for the government to engage in talks. Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Sunday reiterated that “some forces” were desperately trying to destroy the hard-earned peace in the state.

The protests reached the door steps of Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) president Avtar Singh Makkar as a group of Sikhs held two-hour dharna outside his house in Ludhiana.

According to the reports, the protests resulted in cancellation of as many as eight trains in Ferozepur division.

Tension mounted at Harike bridge where a protester Puran Singh, 60, died due to cardiac arrest. The traffic between Ferozepur and Amritsar remains suspended for the last four days as protesters have resorted to a massive blockade at Harike.

Another key artery connecting Jalandhar with Amritsar has been blocked at Beas by protesters, forcing vehicles to take detours.

Panthic organisations had on Saturday announced to hold “controlled” blockades at one place in each district from 10am to 1 pm. However, in most areas protesters resorted to day-long blockades.

Bathinda district witnessed a day-long protest at Maur, Talwandi Sabo and Kotshamir, while the blockade at Gonaiana was lifted at 1pm.

The Malwa region too remained cut off from Majha as protesters blocked Gidder Pindi bridge over Beas in Ferozepur. In Ferozepur district alone, roads were blocked at 13 key points.

Protesters continued to block the Kotkapura-Bathinda road near Behbal Kalan village, where two protesters were killed in police firing, triggering statewide agitation.

Keys roads in Faridkot remained blocked for the fifth consecutive day.

In Amritsar, normal life was hit as protesters blocked National Highway-1 near Daburji and Kot Mit Singh area. The blockade on Kot Mit Road affected the traffic movement towards Tarn Taran district. Dharnas were staged at 10 key locations in Tarn Taran.

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