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India Denied Entry To Chandigarh, Punjab Riot Victims Launch Indefinite Stir

Chaan Pardesi

Oct 4, 2008
London & Kuala Lumpur
Hundreds of 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims from across Punjab on Tuesday launched an indefinite agitation against the state government on the Mohali-Chandigarh border after they were denied entry to Chandigarh.

As the protesters, under the banner of the Punjab Danga Peerit Welfare Society, led by its president Surjit Singh, marched from Mohali towards Chandigarh, a heavy police force from Chandigarh stopped them from crossing the border around 2 pm. Following this, they squatted on the middle of the road leading from Sector 51-52, Mohali, to Sector 43-44, Chandigarh, closing it for the vehicular traffic.

To protest against the police action, five protesters — Gurpal Kaur (45), state president of society’s women wing, Harbans Kaur (80), chairperson, Pritpal Singh (75), Kultar Singh (75), all from Ludhiana, and Mohan Singh (75) from Gurdaspur — sat on fast-unto-death, hundreds of protesters began indefinite dharna.

Even though the protesters later offered to continue their protest on the roadside and remain totally peaceful, the police force from Chandigarh and Mohali took no chances and kept the road completely barricaded from both sides in their respective jurisdictions, causing great hardship to the commuters in general and especially to those residing in the area.

On the call of the society, the riot victims from across the state started gathering at Gurdwara Amb Sahib in Phase VIII since morning and after performing ardas, they began protest march towards Chandigarh at 1 pm. As per their programme, the protesters were on their way to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s official residence in Chandigarh, which they wanted to gherao but were not allowed to enter Chandigarh.

“We will squat here indefinitely till our demands are met or we are allowed to move towards CM’s residence,” declared society president Surjit Singh.

The protesters included a large number of women, most of them widows with their children, and agreed to continue the protest till they get justice.

Alleging widespread irregularities in the allotment of flats to riot victims in Ludhiana, the society demanded to immediately stop the ongoing allotment till the whole process was made fair and transparent. The riot victims were also up in arms over the alleged negligence of the state government in not distributing the entire Central grant released for the riot victims in Punjab, following which almost Rs 150 crore of the total Rs 440 crore was lapsed.

“The ruling SAD leaders always used us for their political benefits and promise us a moon every time before elections but later, they fail to even recognise us,” rued society senior vice-president Amarjit Singh Rajpal, who accused Chandigarh police officials of “threatening them with use of force if they did not left the spot immediately”. “We will not return empty-handed what the consequences may be,” averred he.

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