CAA: Mixed response to Punjab bandh call
Malerkotla The one-day ‘Punjab bandh’ call given by radical Sikh outfits Dal Khalsa and Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) evoked a lukewarm response in most parts of the state, barring Malerkotla and Amritsar. In Malerkotla, shops and businesses remained closed and a protest march was organised that started and ended at the Sirhindi Gate.
Members of communist, Sikh and Muslim unions raised slogans of communal harmony. “Over 90% bandh was observed in Malerkotla. Amargarh also saw protests. We wanted to show the Centre that Sikhs and Muslims are united against the CAA and the NRC,” claimed Baljinder Singh, vice-president, SAD (A). “The BJP has adopted a policy of divide and rule. People from all religions are exhibiting solidarity,” said Rashpinder Jimmy, state president, Punjab Radical Students Union. Members of SAD (Amritsar), Dal Khalsa and other outfits held a march in Sangrur. Protests remained peaceful. There was negligible impact in Bathinda, though a number of protesters marched in the city and in Rampura Phul, carrying black flags. In Barnala, shops remained closed in the morning, but it was business as usual by the afternoon.
Transport remained normal in Amritsar
Amritsar Major commercial locations, including Lawrence Road, Hall Bazaar, Guru Bazaar, Katra Jaimal Singh Bazaar, Chitta Katra Bazaar and other markets remained shut in the city. Overall, the response to the bandh was partial in the district. Transport remained normal everywhere.
Dal Khalsa president Harpal Singh Cheema and spokesman Kanwar Pal Singh, with members of hardline Sikh bodies, marched from the Bhandari bridge to the Golden Temple. A large number of Muslims, members of The All-India Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation (BAMCEF) and Dalit activists participated. Cheema said, “The protest reflects people’s opposition to the Sangh’s communal agenda and reiterates that the state will not be a part of it.”
Kanwarpal said, “This government has betrayed Sikhs by not releasing prisoners that have completed prison terms and by its failure to book cops that unleashed brutality on university students.” Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Committee also supported the bandh call.
Harike bridge blocked
In Tarn Taran, almost half of private establishments observed a shutdown. SAD (Amritsar) workers led by general secretary Harpal Singh blocked traffic for around two hours at Harike bridge. Gurdaspur, Batala and Pathankot cities saw no impact.
Police prevent face-off in Hoshiarpur
Hoshiarpur Police prevented a potentially ugly face-off between BJP activists and members of Sikh radical organisations, at the Clock Tower, where parallel dharnas were staged. Other demonstrations had been held earlier, with Sikh groups converging at the Parbhat Chowk, and the BJP workers gathering on the Phagwara road. Officials remained on edge till the sit-ins were, finally, lifted around 4pm.