The high-security zone outside the official residence of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has virtually turned into a "protest site" with Congress and war widows continuing to stage their separate sit-ins over their demands. Tight security arrangements have been made by the city police outside the residence of the house with road leading to Badal's house being barricaded from both sides and anti-riot vehicles and fire fighters being deployed at the site which is otherwise a no-protest zone. Besides prohibitory orders banning assembly of five or more persons and taking out of processions remain in force in the area which has the residences of chief ministers, ministers, senior officers of Punjab and Haryana besides the joint secretariats, assemblies and the High Court. The protest of Punjab Congress members today entered third day.
They are demanding transfer of Ludhiana Police Commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh and suspension of ADCP-4 Jaswinder Singh and a case to be registered against Akali activists in 'Chitta Ravan' case.
Across the road in front of Badal's house, there are also war widows and family members of 1962, 1965 and 1971 war martyrs who have been protesting against the state government for not meeting their demands for the last several days.
"Our protest will continue till our demands are met," Punjab Congress Legislature Party leader Charanjit Singh Channi said adding, "This place (the protest site) has become a Jantar Mantar (as it is in Delhi)."
The food for members of Congress is coming from the official house of Channi which is located nearby. "Today, the lunch is being brought by MLA Rana Gurjit Sigh from his house," said Congress MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu.
On the other hand, war widows and family members of 1962, 1965 and 1971 war martyrs who had rejected Rs 50 lakh special grant-in-aid announced by the state government had refused to call off their protest.
They have now started observing hunger strike. "We shall continue with our protest," said Gurmeet Singh, son of a 1971 war widow Shinder Kaur.
Several war widows and their family members have been staging protest in front of Badal's residence here since September 27.
They have been demanding financial compensation in lieu of 10 acres of land which was announced in 1975.
Meanwhile, senior party members today visited the protesting Congress workers outside Badal's house to express here their solidarity. Among the first to reach the dharna site and express support for the party workers this morning was Ambika Soni, AICC general secretary and chairperson of Punjab Congress Campaign Committee. Congress in-charge, Punjab Affairs, Asha Kumari; AICC Secretary Harish Choudhary; and former Punjab CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal also joined the protestors. Several Congress legislators and workers have been camping outside Badal's residence in Chandigarh since Thursday, demanding transfer of Ludhiana Police Commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh and suspension of Additional Commissioner of Police (City-4) Jaswinder Singh and case to be registered against Akali activists. The visit by Soni and other senior leaders came a day after Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh joined the agitating party workers and vowed to take the anti-Akali battle to its logical conclusion. Addressing the protestors, Amarinder had announced that effigies of Chitta Ravana would be burnt in all the 117 Assembly constituencies of the state as symbols of the evil regime of the Shiromani Akali Dal. Extending their full support to the party MLAs and workers on dharna outside the gate of Badal's residence, Soni and other Congress leaders today declared that they would not allow the Akali "gunda raj" to continue in the state. The dharna, they announced, would continue till the Badal government takes action against the "erring" police officials. Among others sitting at the dharna are CLP chief Charanjit Singh Channi, Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu and Congress MLAs Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Surinder Dawar, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Rana Gurjit Singh, Randip Nabha, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Rakesh Pandey.