Sikh outfits today disrupted rail traffic for several hours in Punjab and attempted to march towards the Prime Minister’s residence here protesting against Congress leader Sajjan Kumar’s acquittal in a 1984 riots case.
Schedules of number of trains,including Shatabadi Express,Amritsar-Saharsa Express,Jammu-Chennai Express,New Delhi-Amritsar Superfast,Chhattisgarh-Amritsar Express,Howrah-Amritsar Express and Amritsar-Mumbai Paschim Express,were hit as the protesters blocked rail traffic at Amritsar,Ludhiana and Batala,railway sources said.
In Delhi,angry Sikhs were prevented from marching towards the Prime Minister’s residence even as an indefinite fast of one of the riot victims entered the third day.
The protesters,who had gathered at Jantar Mantar,started moving towards the 7,Race Course Road residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the afternoon but were stopped near Parliament Street police station.
Shouting slogans against Congress leaders,some of the protesters had a scuffle with the police and tried to break the barricades. Many of them were detained by a large contingent of the police which had deployed water cannons. Those picked up were released later.
“Today we wanted to march to the PM’s residence but we were stopped by the police. Tomorrow,we will adopt a different strategy. We will fight till justice is done,” Manjeet Singh,president of Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee,said.
Former Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta said,”The rights of Sikhs have been denied by not giving them justice. Even after these years,justice couldn’t be done. The police and the government have tried to play with witnesses and evidence to hide the truth…even the police’s role seems to be suspicious.
“We fully support the Sikhs. The Congress government needs to give an answer,” he said.
The indefinite fast of Nirpreet Kaur,one of the riot victims,entered the third day today protesting against the acquittal of Kumar. Kaur,who lost her father in the riots after the assassination of Indira Gandhi,had yesterday shot off a letter to the PM urging him to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the anti-Sikh riots.
In Punjab’s Batala,the protesters jointly led by SGPC and Sikh student leaders blocked Ravi Express at the railway station for an hour,officials said.
In Ludhiana,members of Sikh Danga Peerat Society and All India Sikh Student Federation sat on dharna on railway lines,paralysing rail traffic on main line towards Delhi and Amritsar for around six hours,they said.
They warned that if the government failed to take appropriate steps to ensure punishment for the culprits,the agitation would be stepped up in the coming days.
Traffic on the main Ludhiana Delhi rail route remained suspended for four hours. Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) president Avtar Singh Makkar also addressed the protesters.