Hundreds of INLD supporters from Haryana today flooded the Parliament Street in the heart of the national capital to protest over the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue, prompting police to resort to lathicharge.
According to police, the protesters were initially at Jantar Mantar and suddenly poured onto the Parliament Street mid-afternoon, barely a few metres shy of the perimeter of the Parliament House.
"The protesters, including farmers from Haryana were trying to march towards Parliament to press for their demands on SYL issue. Some Jat quota agitators had also slipped into the crowd," a police official said.
The Parliament Street is a very high-security zone and therefore police and paramilitary forces on duty were sent into a tizzy as the agitators sought to march towards the Parliament complex.
As the protesters ran through the one-way traffic on the street, security personnel resorted to lathicharge to disperse the crowd. A water cannon was also kept on standby. Traffic in the area was disrupted for quite some time.
"Some of them were detained and taken to the Parliament Street Police Station. Protesters are generally cordoned off around Patel Chowk roundabout area but these agitators suddenly spilled onto the street from other routes," the official said.
Punjab and Haryana have been at loggerheads over the SYL canal issue. The Supreme Court in a verdict last November had held as unconstitutional the 2004 law passed by Punjab to terminate the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal water sharing agreement with neighbouring states.
An INLD spokesperson, when contacted said, "The party's demand from the Centre is that the work on the canal be completed," while alleging that "even the BJP government in Haryana was not pursuing the matter seriously enough with the Centre."
He also claimed that several INLD supporters, including the party's Haryana unit president Ashok Arora, were injured in the incident.
On February 23, several INLD leaders of Haryana, including Abhay Chautala, were stopped from marching into Punjab from Haryana side, when they had tried to undertake the digging of the SYL canal. They were arrested for breaching the prohibitory orders.
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A case of rioting has been registered against unknown persons, a senior police officer said.
"We were informed by them that it would be a peaceful protest but today around 1,500-2,000 persons came and were violent. They broke barricades and we had to use mild force to control the crowd," he said.
Some policemen and protesters, are being treated for injuries, the officer said, but denied that women protesters were manhandled during the protests.