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Open Shambhu border in a week, High Court tells Haryana

Asks protesting farm unions to maintain law and order

Open Shambhu border in a week, High Court tells Haryana

The Shambhu border in Patiala has been lying closed since mid-February. TRIBUNE PHOTO: RAJESH SACHAR

Tribune News Service

Saurabh Malik

Chandigarh, July 10

More than five months after the “unlawful sealing of the border between Haryana and Punjab” to prevent farmers from “protesting peacefully” came under the judicial scanner, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday directed the state of Haryana to open the Shambhu border on an experimental basis to prevent inconvenience to the general public. For the purpose, the Bench set a week’s deadline.

Taking note of the barricades at the Khanauri border in Sangrur district, the Bench asserted that it was apparent that the “lifelines of the state of Punjab” were blocked following mere apprehension, while “the cause has dwindled”. As such, it would be in the general public’s interest that “the state of Haryana now does not continue to block the highways for all time to come”.

The Bench of Justice Gurmeet Singh Sandhawalia and Justice Vikas Bahl also made it clear that Haryana might take effective steps to enforce law and order against the protesters failing to remain within their limits. The farmers’ unions taking part in the agitation were also asked to maintain law and order.

Directions were also issued to Punjab to ensure that the demonstrators gathered in its territory were duly controlled as and when required. “Both states shall endeavour to ensure that the highway at the Shambhu border is restored to its original glory”.

After examining the site plan submitted by Haryana counsel Deepak Sabherwal on the closure at the Shambhu border, the Bench added that the NH-44 between the two states was apparently blocked due to the preventive measures taken by Haryana. It was leading to a “lot of inconvenience” as the NH-44 was the lifeline for Punjab since the main traffic coming from Delhi flowed to the state from the highway, further leading to J&K.

“The diversion, which has thus been made to avoid the blockage, is apparently causing great inconvenience to the general public, which would also be clear from the affidavits filed by the states’ officials themselves, apart from the daily commuters who have to take diversions of at least over 10 km on a daily basis,” the Bench said.

Referring to an affidavit filed on Haryana’s behalf, the Bench observed that directions had been sought from the court to the farmers’ unions and their leaders to clear the national highways blocked by the agitators and to relocate the protest to the place designated by the local administration.

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