Farmers and labourers, staging a dharna on a 100m stretch on the national highway opposite the mini secretariat here, have taken complete possession of a park opposite the deputy commissioner's office. The park was developed in a particular way to keep protesters away.
Even as the administration seems 'helpless' to stop them, the park is now being used as a site to prepare and serve 'langar' (community meal). Nearly 15 earth ovens have been dug up in the park, and tents have been installed.
Besides the park, the road to the DC's house is also being used for langar arrangements. Speeches targeting the ruling Badal family are being delivered through loudspeakers. The fencing around the park has been damaged as well.
To keep protesters away
Six months before the 2012 general assembly elections, several unions had put up their tents at the open space in the outer yard of the mini secretariat.
After the ruling alliance returned to power in 2012, the administration, which had reportedly planned to check the freedom of protesters, released orders that all protests be held at Transport Nagar outside the city, and banned protests near the mini secretariat.
Later, the administration converted the yard outside the secretariat, where the protesters installed their canopies, into a lavish green park. Trees and swings were designed in such a way that did not allow a big gathering.
This project was worked out quickly, and while no official reason was given for the haste, apart from beautification, sources alleged that the administrations intentions were made clear by the fact that many abandoned parks in the city were never paid attention. Ambedkar Park, which is adjacent to this new park, presents a picture of neglect, they alleged.
The park was a success, until the farmers and labourers' union started a three-day dharna here on Wednesday.