SAD’s Sukhbir Singh Badal, Harsimrat Kaur briefly detained over farm laws protest
SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, his wife and former Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Prem Singh Chandumajra and other senior Akali leaders were detained by the Chandigarh police on Thursday night while they were going towards the residence of the Punjab governor to protest the contentious new agri laws.
The police even used water cannons and resorted to cane charge to disperse the Akalis at the Chandigarh-Mullanpur and Chandigarh-Zirakpur borders, party leaders said.
There was heavy police deployment, including jawans of the Rapid Action Force, along the two borders. Barricades were put up to stop the Akalis going towards Chandigarh.
The SAD leaders wanted to hand over a memorandum to Governor V P Singh Badnore, seeking revocation of the three new farm laws.
The Chandigarh administration had imposed Section 144 of CrPC, banning assembly of five and more people at one place.
The police wanted only a few leaders to meet the Punjab governor to submit the memorandum but the SAD leadership demanded that all Akali members be allowed.
“We detained them (Akali leaders) for a brief period and they were later released,” Chandigarh Senior Superintendent of Police Kuldeep Chahal said.
Among the leaders who were detained were Bikram Singh Majithia, Parambans Singh Romana, Daljit Singh Cheema, Manjinder Singh Sirsa and a few others.
Sukhbir Singh Badal was leading a ‘Kisan march’ from the Akal Takht in Amritsar, while Harsimrat Kaur Badal was leading another procession from Takht Damdama Sahib at Talwandi Sabo in Bathinda.
A third procession was led by senior Akali leaders Prem Singh Chandumajra and Daljit Singh Cheema from Takht Keshgarh Sahib in Anandpur Sahib.
The march led by Sukhbir Badal was joined by the one led by Bikram Singh Majithia, Chandumajra, Jagir Kaur and Cheema and it reached the Chandigarh-Mullanpur border at around 9:30 pm.
From there, the police took Sukhbir Badal, Majithia, Chandumajra and Jagir Kaur into preventive custody as they tried to enter Chandigarh.
“We wanted to hand over a memorandum to the governor but it is sad he did not meet us. We were lathi-charged which we strongly condemn. It is an injustice. They tried to suppress the voice of farmers,” Sukhbir Badal said.
The procession led by Harsimrat Kaur reached the Chandigarh-Zirakpur around 8 pm.
When the police stopped the Akalis from going towards Chandigarh, Harsimrat Badal and MP Balwinder Singh Bhunder sat on a dharna on the road. They were later detained by the police.
The Akali leadership was taken to the Chandigarh sector 17 police station and released around 10:45 pm.
Meanwhile, Akali stalwart Parkash Singh Badal strongly condemned the use of force on “peaceful” Akalis by the Chandigarh Police and said that the “brutal” lathicharge made this a “painful and dark day” for democracy in the country’s history.
Last week, the SAD had announced to part ways with the NDA, the third major party to walk out of the BJP-led coalition in the last couple of years.
On September 17, Harsimrat Kaur Badal had quit the Union Cabinet after the SAD chief strongly opposed the farm bills in Lok Sabha, claiming the legislations will “destroy” the agriculture sector in Punjab.
President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday gave assent to the three contentious bills -- Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill; Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill; and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill.