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Protests turn violent,18 arrested

The third day of the strike by autorickshaw operators was marked by violence in Chandigarh,with protestors attacking a passenger bus on Wednesday. As many as 18 people were arrested on charges of rioting.

Written by Express News Service | Chandigarh |
April 16, 2009 3:30:14 am

* Agitators hurl stones at Haryana Roadways bus
* Police teams deployed at railway station
* Students bear the brunt as autorickshaws remain off roads
* Strike to continue as talks fail

The third day of the strike by autorickshaw operators was marked by violence in Chandigarh,with protestors attacking a passenger bus on Wednesday. As many as 18 people were arrested on charges of rioting.

Firm on its stand to ban the entry of petrol and diesel-run autorickshaws from Mohali and Panchkula to Chandigarh,the UT Administration had on Tuesday extended till August 31 the deadline given to auto operators to switch over to LPG. The decision,however,failed to cut an ice with the operators,who have decided to continue with the strike.

The protests took an ugly turn when the drivers hurled stones at a Delhi-bound Haryana Roadways bus. The bus,on its way to Chandigarh from Kalka,was targeted near a railway overbridge. While no casualty was reported,the bus was heavily damaged.

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The incident took place around 1.30 pm when the autorickshaw drivers of Panchkula were taking out a rally to Chandigarh,blocking the traffic for around 45 minutes.

The bus had just crossed the railway lightpoint when it was attacked. Several passengers got down to escape. The police later stopped the rally from marching further and arrested 18 autorickshaw drivers.

“Most of those arrested are from Manimajra,Vikas Nagar,Mauli Jagran and Panchkula. Their medical examination was conducted and they were sent to judicial custody,” said Kehar Singh,SHO,Manimajra police station.

DSP (East) P K Dhawan said: “Their plan was to block the Madhya Marg in a big way.”

Anticipating disruption of rail traffic,heavy police deployment was made at the railway station too.

“A special Government Railway Police reserve of around 24 officers was on duty throughout the day. Personnel were called in form Ambala too,” said GRP SHO Inspector Teerath Ram.

Autorickshaws operators from the tricity,meanwhile,assembled at the Circus Ground in Sector 17,Chandigarh,and staged a demonstration.

“We had meetings with Additional Deputy Commissioner Captain P S Shergill today. There was no outcome as the Administration did not want to budge. We will continue with the strike,” said Joint Action Committee chairman Kamala Kant.

Shergill said: “The demands of the drivers could not be met. They wanted to meet the Home Secretary who left for Delhi today for an official assignment and will be back on Friday.”

With autorickshaws off roads,commuters continued to face inconvenience. Students who go to school by autorickshaws were the worst hit. Parents could be seen ferrying their children to school. Others travelled by local buses or cyclerickshaws.

“I cannot take a leave every day because I have to drop my children to school. These people should be wise enough to settle their differences without causing any trouble to the commuters,” said Renuka Sihag,a resident of Panchkula.

Students of government schools,which reopen on Friday,are likely to suffer more.

Since these schools don’t have buses,most students depend on autos.

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First published on: 16-04-2009 at 03:30:14 am

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