INLD protest on SYL: Tepid response, commuters have harrowing time
Thousands of commuters had a tough time on Monday as supporters of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), the principal opposition party of Haryana, blocked the movement of vehicles entering the state from Punjab. INLD workers disrupted traffic at five places on busy roads connecting Punjab and Haryana, including the highways at the Shambhu border, Lalru near Ambala, Moonak, Dabwali in Sirsa, as part of their six-hour protest over the contentious Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal.
The turnout of protesters at the “symbolic” road blockades was lower than expected at most protest sites except Dabwali. However, the police in the two states diverted traffic at several places, leading to chaos and causing huge inconvenience to people who were forced to take detours and travel through narrow village roads.
The state-owned Pepsu Road Transport Corporation had also suspended its buses on the Delhi and Haryana routes as a precautionary measure in the wake of the protest.
Both Punjab and Haryana had made heavy police deployment and the protest passed off peacefully. No untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the two states.
“Our fight is for getting Haryana’s share of river waters from Punjab through the SYL for the farmers and people of the state. The centre must execute the order of the Supreme Court in the matter,” INLD leader Abhay said while addressing his party workers at Lalru. He threatened to escalate the protests in case of further delay in implementation of the court decision.
SHAMBU BARRIER FORCIBLY SHUT
At Shambhu border, hundreds of INLD activists converged in the morning, forcibly closing the toll collection barrier and disrupting traffic coming from Punjab. INLD MP Dushyant Chautala was leading the protest.
No government vehicles and buses were allowed to enter the state whereas the movement of private vehicles was also curtailed for hours. The INLD workers were seen giving flowers to passengers of private vehicles requesting them to tell the Punjab government to implement the apex court’s decision on SYL.
The Punjab police, as advised by their Haryana counterparts, diverted the traffic from Rajpura and Fatehgarh Sahib while buses were allowed to operate through link roads. On the Rajpura-Ambala road, it was a curfew-like situation as no private vehicle, except medical ambulance services, were allowed to enter or cross the state border.
In Haryana also, district administrations had made elaborate arrangements, deputing police personnel on every nook and corner and diverting traffic at many places.
“There is no ban on the entry of vehicles in Punjab, but the police diverted our vehicle from the National Highway-1 to a link road via Indri, forcing us to travel about 20-km extra to reach Chandigarh,” said businessman Sumit Kumar.