Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Abhay Chautala, along with 72 party activists, who were arrested on February 23 for violating prohibitory orders by forcibly entering the Punjab territory for digging the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal, were released from the Patiala Central Jail on Monday.
Rajpura sub-divisional magistrate had sent the INLD activists, including two party MPs, 18 sitting MLAs, to judicial custody till February 27 after they were arrested near the Shambhu barrier on the Haryana-Punjab border on Thursday.
After their release, the INLD leaders headed for the Haryana assembly to attend opening day of the budget session.
On Sunday evening, station house officer of the Shambhu police station Gurcharan Singh submitted an application at the residence of Rajpura SDM seeking withdrawal of case under Sections 107 (abetment of a thing; instigating any person to do that thing) and 152 (assaulting or obstructing public servant when suppressing riot, etc) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for the release of INLD activists.
The police move came after the INLD leaders had announced not to seek bail and stay in the jail in an apparent bid to pressurise Punjab for the construction of the SYL Canal.
While media was camping in Rajpura SDM’s court, the police took INLD leaders, who raised slogans to construct the SYL Canal, from jail in two buses amid high to security to Mohali, from where they took their private vehicles to reach Chandigarh to attend the Haryana assembly’s budget session, which commenced on Monday.
“Police on Sunday evening filed an application at my camp office that they want to withdraw charges against the INLD leaders. Police said there was no threat of breach of peace from the INLD leaders, thus I agreed to their plea and ordered their release on Sunday evening,” said Rajpura SDM Harpreet Sudan.
Deputy inspector general Ashish Chaudhry said there was no threat of from the INLD leaders now, so police decided to move an application for their release.
Meanwhile, the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) flayed the police and government for INLD leaders’ release.
“Withdrawal of charges against INLD leaders has again proved that chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has opted for his friendship with the Chautalas instead of watching Punjab interests. It’s Badal who at behest of Devi Lal had acquired the land for the SYL Canal land and now again has ordered withdrawn charges against the INLD leaders. It was all drama to give mileage to the INLD,” said Punjab Congress vice-president Brahm Mohindra.
AAP leader Balbir Singh said: “The INLD leaders’ arrest was stage-managed to create trouble for the next government in Punjab.”