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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Akalis’ march to gherao Assembly runs into police water cannons

SAD had announced to gherao Punjab Vidhan Sabha on the first day of the Budget Session on Monday over Captain Amarinder Singh government’s “failure to fulfil the promises made to voters" ahead of 2017 elections in the state.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
March 2, 2021 11:03:20 am
Punjab, SAD, Water cannonsSAD workers face water canons during a protest march led by SAD president Sukhbir Badal on the first day of the Budget session, in Chandigarh Monday. Express Photo: Kamleshwar Singh

Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and other party leaders were detained by the Chandigarh Police from Sector 25 as they tried to march towards the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to gherao it on Monday afternoon.

Police had to use water cannons and even resort to mild lathicharge to stop Akalis from marching towards the Vidhan Sabha. The Akali leaders were later let off.

Sukhbir and other senior party leaders were in an open vehicle as party leaders ahead of them tried to breach the barricading put up by the police.

SAD had announced to gherao Punjab Vidhan Sabha on the first day of the Budget Session on Monday over Captain Amarinder Singh government’s “failure to fulfil the promises made to voters” ahead of 2017 elections in the state. SAD also blamed Amarinder government for astronomical fuel prices in the state, saying that the taxes on petrol and diesel imposed by the state were among the highest. Among other things, Akali Dal also blamed the Congress government for hike in power tariff.

After addressing gathering at the venue, the Akali leaders started to march towards Vidhan Sabha when there was a face off between them and the Chandigarh Police, which led to preventive detentions.

The Akali leaders were taken to Sector 17 police station and were let off later.

While coming out of the police station, Sukhbir said “people had come to seek an answer from this government of loot in Punjab. Punjab seeks an answer.”

Former Member of Parliament (MP) Prem Singh Chandumajra flayed police action and lashed out both at Centre government and Punjab government. Chandumajra said both the governments were hand in glove. He said it was unfortunate that Chandigarh police resorted to police action and arrests.

Earlier, in the rally “Punjab mangda jawab” (Punjab seeks an answer), promising a slew of populist measures if people voted Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) to power in the upcoming Vidhan Sabha elections in Punjab early next year, Sukhbir announced that his party would make “a new Punjab”.

Addressing the gathering and promising a complete makeover of all the 12,000 villages in terms of sewage and other facilities, Sukhbir said, “Punjab nu nawan Punjab bana ke dikhawange. Tusin jaande o ki jo vi vaada keeta o poora keeta (We will give Punjab a makeover and make it a new Punjab. You know that whatever we promised, we fulfilled that.”

Sukhbir said if SAD was voted to power, the party would ensure that three farm legislations by the Centre were not implemented in Punjab.
The promises made by Sukhbir from the stage included ensuring minimum support price (MSP) by the state government for even for fruits and vegetables, apart from ensuring that Centre government paid assured MSP on paddy and wheat.

He promised to reduce domestic power tariff by half, implement pay commission and release pending dearness allowance of employees.
Sukhbir also announced holding similar rallies after March 12 in all the 117 constituencies of the state. He said he would lead each rally. He also announced constituency-wise protests by SAD leaders against the ruling government in the State on March 8.

Lashing out at CM Amarinder Singh, Sukhbir said: “The CM had not only insulted the people but also the holy Gutka Sahib by taking a false oath that he would implement a complete farm loan waiver once voted to power besides a host of other promises.”

He said: “These included eradicating drugs within four weeks, ensuring jobs to each household, giving unemployment allowance of Rs 2,500 to youth, increasing the old age pension to Rs 2,500 per month and increasing the Shagun outlay to Rs 51,000 besides providing free houses to the houseless.”

“Not one of these promises has been fulfilled.” said the SAD president.

Speaking at the dharna site, Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia said: “Those who betrayed the farmers should not speak in Punjab Vidhan Sabha.”

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