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Sikhs protest in Chandigarh against Dera chief

Sikh activists held Chandigarh residents to ransom in some of the busiest areas of the city by blocking key roads demanding Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief's arrest.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON JUL 15, 2008 06:30 PM IST

Sikh activists from across Punjab held Chandigarh residents to ransom in some of the busiest areas of the city by blocking key roads for the third consecutive day on Tuesday demanding Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's arrest.

The Sikh activists from the Sant Samaj and other groups were protesting on the busy dividing road of Sectors 16-17 and near Sectors 7-8 here, despite the allotment of a fixed site in Sector 25 for protests and rallies.

Over 100 activists from various Sikh groups like Sant Samaj, Damdami Taksal, Buddha Dal and Guru Nanak Dal were protesting against authorities' alleged failure to arrest the Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief along with his bodyguard for killing a Sikh youth in Mumbai last month.

Though they protested in a peaceful manner, commuters complained as they were forced to take an alternative longer route. The protests were taking place near the city's commercial and office hub, Sector 17.

The Chandigarh police blocked the road for traffic while letting the protesters have a free hand.

It was the same spot where Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP and former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu and his supporters were cane-charged and drenched with water cannons by police recently.

The police had then said that Sidhu and others had violated Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) banning assembly of five or more people in the area.

"We will continue this peaceful agitation at this place only till July 19 but if our demand of arresting Ram Rahim is not met then we will intensify our protest," Paramjit Singh, a Sikh activist told IANS.

Puneet Bhalla, a businessman, said: "It is quite weird that the police have allowed them to hold their stir at this busy place, if there is a proper place meant for such activities. The situation here worsens during lunch hours and it is also affecting the traffic on the adjoining roads of Sectors 16, 18, 22 and 23."

A police official deployed at the site said: "We are trying our best to ensure the smooth flow of traffic on alternative routes but we cannot do anything on our own and are just waiting for orders from our seniors."

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