July 4, 2021 9:21:28 am
Police on Saturday used water cannons to disperse hundreds of Aam Aadmi Party workers who broke barricades on their way way to “gherao” the residence of Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh at Siswan in protest against the prevailing power crisis in the state.
Heavy security was deployed and multi-layered barricades were put up on the road leading to the CM’s farmhouse. The protesters, led by AAP sate president Bhagwant Mann and Leader of Opposition Harpal Cheema, however, broke through the first layer of barricades and reached the second, at Siswan T-point, where police used water cannons to disperse them. In the melee, turbans of several protesters came off.
The police detained several AAP leaders, including Mann, Cheema and several AAP MLAs. They were later released.
The Amarinder Singh-led government is facing flak from the opposition for not being able to provide sufficient electricity to consumers, especially to paddy growers for sowing crop. Punjab has been reeling under an unprecedented power shortage with both urban and rural areas facing long hours of load shedding amid scorching heat and the ongoing paddy transplantation season. CM has already ordered reduction in timings of government offices and reduced power supply to high energy consuming industries.
Earlier, addressing the protesters, the AAP leaders slammed the Congress government for failing both the urban and rural power consumers.
Mann said they had gathered to express the “grief” of 2.75 crore people of Punjab to the chief minister who he alleged was “sleeping in his farmhouse”.
He said that at Rs 10 per unit, electricity in Punjab was “the most expensive” in the country. Mann added that people have been forced to stage dharnas on road in this scorching heat because of power cuts.
Mann, the party MP from Sangrur, also raised the issue of ongoing protest by farmers against the three central agri laws. He said Amarinder Singh should approach Prime Minister Narendra Modi to resolve the issues of the farmers and get all the three “black laws” repealed.
The AAP leader alleged that both the CM and Akai Dal leader Sukhbir Singh Badal “do not bother about the common people”.
Cheema said that the state exchequer was being “looted” by private power companies. He alleged that Amarinder Singh had neither fulfilled his election promises nor ended the “mafia” rule.
“Even today, the people of Punjab are suffering due to expensive sand, gravel, electricity, petrol and diesel,” he said, adding that both the ruling Congress and the Akali Dal are in a tough situation now after Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal announced AAP will give 300 units free power if voted to power.
Mohali Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Satinder Singh said that the tight arrangements were made and nobody was hurt.
The district police later booked 223 AAP leaders and workers under section 188 (disobedience to orders duly promulgated by a public servant) of the IPC and Section 51 (A) of the Disaster Management Act.
Those booked include Mann, Cheema, and MLAs Meet Hayer, Manjeet Singh Bilaspur, Kulwant Singh Pandori, and Master Baldev Singh.
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