Tension prevailed in the city on Tuesday following a call for a shutdown of commercial establishments given by the jewellers, who have been on strike for the past 26 days to protest the imposition of additional excise duty on gold.
The jewellers took out a protest march in markets and forced shopkeepers to shut down their shops and asked them to join their march.
However, jewellers and the police came face to face when the latter intervened and tried to stop the march at the Arya Samaj Chowk. Both parties exchanged heated arguments and there was a mild scuffle was witnessed over the issue. After this, a heavy police force was deployed to maintain law and order in the city.
Meanwhile, Hardev Arshi, state secretary of the Communist Party of India, accompanied by local leaders, joined the protest and demanded immediate rollback of the Union government’s decision.
Arshi said that the Central and state governments were taking anti-people decisions. “The imposition of excise duty on gold and production of PAN card will not only the jewellers, but also the consumers,” he said. He said police were also working in an unautocratic and undemocratic manner by thwarting people’s protests.
District president of Swarankar Sangh Pappu Jaidiya said that thepolice tried to stop them thrice and even tried to scare them. Jaidiya said that jewellers tried to meet member of Parliament (MP) from Bathinda and union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who was on a two-day tour here, but she was reluctant to meet them.
“If Bathinda MP won’t pay heed to our demands, we would start a protest against the Shiromani Akali Dal, which is one of the parties in the NDA,” he said.
The Vyapar Mandal has come out in support of jwellers. Shopkeepers in satellite towns observed complete shutdown. Congress party leaders Chiranji Lal Garg, KK Aggarwal and Jagroop Singh Gill also joined the protest.