Police used water canons Friday to stop the Aam Aadmi Party workers protesting against the repeated hikes in power tariff in Punjab and the failure of the Congress government to abrogate the purchase agreements signed with private power producers during the previous SAD-BJP government.
More than a thousand AAP workers led by the state President, Bhagwant Mann, Leader of Opposition, Harpal Cheema, and several legislators arrived at the MLA’s hostel to take out a march till the residence of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. The AAP leaders and workers were detained by the police for violating prohibitory orders.
Chandigarh police used water cannons to stop the protestors from going towards the chief minister’s residence. AAP leaders claimed that party workers sustained injuries because of the water cannon and several party workers were taken into custody by the police. One AAP district president suffered injury in his eye and was rushed to Fortis Hospital from where he was referred to PGI.
Cheema and parnty MLA Rupinder Kaur Ruby, along with dozen odd workers, managed to dodge Chandigarh Police and marched towards the CM’s residence but were stopped a short distance away. They sat on the road and raised slogans against the Congress government before being taken away in buses and detained at the Sector 3 police station.
Power rates in Punjab were increased by 36 paise a unit with effect from January 1 for domestic consumers. The party leaders alleged that power consumers were being forced to pay between Rs 9 and Rs 12 a unit which was “much higher” as compared to electricity rates in other states.
Mann said on the one hand, Punjab which produces own electricity, was selling electricity to consumers at “higher” rates and on the other hand, the Kejriwal-led government in Delhi, which produces not even a single unit of power, was providing “cheapest” electricity to the people there.
The AAP said the Congress before coming to power had promised to review the power purchase agreements but failed to do so despite being in power for more than two and a half years now.
AAP leaders also claimed that there had been recurring hike in electricity rates allegedly because of the pressure of the private power companies.