150 held for blocking highway at Sirhind
Nearly 150 persons have been booked for allegedly blocking the National Highway at GT Road Sirhind while protesting against the district administration's move to halt the truck union's election process two hours before schedule.
The elections have been mired in controversy after senior officials from the administration claimed that the elections were illegal and conducted without persmission.
Union members, meanwhile, claimed that 80% of the voting was already completed when officials from the district administration, including DTO Kamaljeet Singh and ADC (development) Baljit Singh Sandhu sealed the ballot boxes and sealed them.
The police also resorted to lathicharge on the protesters blocking the highway. The logjam lasted for over an hour, causing traffic snarls.
Sources said that while polls were officially postponed on Tuesday, union members began casting their votes without permission and in absence of an official from the district administration.
Protesters accused a faction Ranjit Singh Libra and former MLA Didar Singh Bhatti of halting the election process. Union members also threatened to stop procuring paddy from grain markets until the matter was resolved.
Jagtar Singh Khatra, a member of the managing committee and the truck operator union in Sirhind, said termed the election illegal and said neither the union or nor the administration made a list of the voters. Meanwhile, Zila Parishad chairman Baljit Singh Bhutta-known to be a staunch loyalist to Anadpur Sahib MP Prem Singh Chandumajra-who was also present time of the polls, demanded that the election results should be declared.
The controversy is a fallout of a rivalry between two factions of the SAD union, one led by Chandumajra and the other, by Sirhind MLA Didar Singh Bhatti. While the former demands polls, the latter opposes it.
Nirbhai Singh, Mohinder Singh and Gurjinder Singh, members of the Sangharsh Committee, said that the Sirhaind Truck Operator's Union has 446 trucks and has been controlled by Libra and his family for the past 60 years.
They accused Libra of cheating truck operators, siphoning of crores of rupees and conducting the union "like a private company".
"We met deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal during his Sangat Darshan programme at Chandigarh and he the directed deputy commissioner to conduct elections of the union," they said, adding that the DC had set the polls in motion and asked the DTO to completed formalities for the polls.
Both officials were not available for their comments. Protesters were booked for 341, 147,149 and 283 sections of IPC.