Sensing that the political considerations may not allow the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Haryana government to use much force against opposition party Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) that has given a call to dig Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal, the Punjab government has fortified Shambhu Barrier, the entry point of Punjab from the neighbouring state, to ensure status quo on the issue.
The government has barricaded roads, brick-walled bridges and deployed around 2,000 security personnel in the area. Drone cameras will be used to keep an eye on the movement of INLD workers on the Haryana side on Thursday, the day they are assembling at the Ambala Vegetable Market, 2km from the Shambu Barrier.
As Punjab and Haryana police are gearing up to avoid a face-off between the two states, the ministry of home affairs, too, is keeping tabs on the situation. Both state governments have demanded central reserved forces, 20 battalions by Punjab and five by Haryana.
Authorities in Punjab apprehend that Haryana government may not use force against the INLD as the action may have negative political repercussions, considering the sensitivity of the issue. Punjab DGP Suresh Arora is personally monitoring the security arrangements at Shambu Barrier, the entry point of Punjab from Haryana , including aerial surveillance. “The status quo order of the Supreme Court on SYL will be maintained at all costs,” said Arora.
“I don’t want to comment on hypothetical questions, but let me make it clear that all possible measures has been taken, forces are ready to tackle any situation,” he said, when asked the number of people he was expecting at the site.
The DGP reviewed the arrangements and issued instructions to strengthen the barricading.
More than 5,000 policemen have been asked to reach Patiala and central reserve force will arrive on Thursday. He also held a series of meetings with police officers from Haryana and both sides agreed to work in tandem. Flanked by DGP (law and order) Hardeep Dhillon, Arora briefed the cops at Shambu Sarai, where a temporary control room has been set up.
Dhillon will keep tabs on situation and Patiala IG B Chander Shekhar will lead the force on Thursday.
A mock drill will be conducted on Wednesday. SSPs of Patiala, Sangrur, Barnala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ropar; DIG (Patiala), DIG (Ropar) and several commandants of various police battalions have been called to Patiala. The central security forces will be deputed as the first line of defence, along with the Punjab Police. Sangrur SSP has been ordered to stop the All India Sikh Students Federation march at Sanaur, where they are going to assemble.