Chandigarh, August 5
The Punjab and Haryana units of the Congress staged protests here on Friday as part of the party's nationwide stir against price rise, unemployment and the GST hike on essential items.
The Punjab unit staged a protest under the leadership of state Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring and Leader of Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa. In Haryana, the protest was led by former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and state Congress president Udai Bhan.
Several Congress MLAs from the two states also took part in the protest.
The protesting leaders and party workers raised slogans against the government and said the police here did not allow them to march towards the Governor's house of the two states citing that prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) are in place.
Police used water cannon to prevent the Punjab unit leaders and workers from marching to the Punjab Raj Bhavan.
Later, they were briefly detained by the police.
When the Haryana Congress leaders and workers tried to take out a march from the state Congress office here to lay siege to the State Governor's house, they were stopped by the Chandigarh police which had put up barricades at a short distance from the opposition party's office.
Later, many leaders and party MLAs including Hooda and several Congress workers were briefly detained by the police here after being evicted from the protest site and put in a police bus.
At a separate protest by the Punjab unit, police had put up barricades near Punjab Congress office here to prevent them from marching to the Raj Bhavan.
Punjab Congress leaders said they wanted to submit a memorandum to the Governor on the issues on which they were staging the protest.
Warring said prices of petrol, diesel, cooking gas and other essential commodities have gone up. "The rupee's value against the dollar is falling. There are several burning issues, which are affecting the common public, but the government is in slumber," Warring later told reporters here. Warring warned that if price rise continues unchecked, it may at some stage lead to a "civil war" kind of a situation.
He said the worry is that the country may then face a "Sri Lanka type situation".
Similar protests were held by the Congress at all district headquarters in the two states.
Earlier, Hooda said their protest was against the "burning issues" which were affecting the lives of the common people.
Hooda, who is Leader of the Opposition in Haryana Assembly, said there has been a manifold increase in prices of essential commodities while unemployment is increasing.
He said the Congress will continue to fight on issues of public interest from the parliament to streets.
Many other Haryana Congress leaders lashed out at the BJP-led dispensation at the Centre, alleging that instead of taking steps to bring down prices and check growing unemployment, they are busy in targeting the opposition.
Haryana Congress MLA Aftab Ahmed accused the Centre of misusing its probe agencies to suppress the voice of political opponents so that they don't raise people's issues.
"In Chandigarh too, you see we are stopped by the police who had put up multi-layered barricades even when we were holding a peaceful protest," Ahmed said.
Speaking to reporters at a separate protest by the Punjab unit, senior leader Partap Singh Bajwa said prices of all essential commodities have gone up adversely impacting the common people.
"Rather than taking steps to check price rise, the government is busy targeting opposition parties' leaders and trying to suppress their voice," Bajwa said.
What action has the Centre taken against fugitive business tycoons who indulged in loot and fled the country, Bajwa asked.
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