Mohali, February 11
Thirty-one members of the Qaumi Insaaf Morcha, which is spearheading the protests for the release of Sikh prisoners, were again on Saturday denied entry to Chandigarh when they tried to march towards Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann’s official residence there.
After they were stopped by police, they sat on a road near the Chandigarh-Mohali border and chanted religious hymns for more than three hours before being dispersed.
In anticipation of the march, the Chandigarh and Mohali police had already made security arrangements at the border.
Trucks were parked and barricades draped with barbed wire were erected to scuttle the protesters’ entry inside the city. Anti-riot vehicles were also deployed at the Chandigarh-Mohali border.
The group had been refused entry on Thursday and Friday also.
On Wednesday, several protesters clashed with the Chandigarh police, leaving many personnel injured and several police vehicles damaged when they were trying to force their way into the Union Territory.
Under the banner of Qaumi Insaaf Morcha, people from various parts of Punjab have been holding protests and laying siege at the YPS chowk near the Mohali-Chandigarh border since January 7.
Gurcharan Singh, the morcha leader, on Saturday told reporters that the government was trying to kill their protest and target people associated with the morcha.
He alleged that the family of Nihang Raja Raj Singh, who was participating in the morcha, was harassed by the Punjab police.
Morcha leaders Gurcharan Singh, Dilsher Singh, and Balwinder Singh, who held the press conference on Saturday, were among seven people who had been booked by the Chandigarh Police in the February 8 violent clash incident.
People from various places of Punjab have set up tents on the road near the YPS chowk in Mohali and are holding a community kitchen (langar) there.
Nihangs (Sikhs armed with traditional weapons), members of several Sikh bodies, and some farm bodies have extended support to the morcha.
The group has been seeking the release of Sikh prisoners, including Balwant Singh Rajoana, a convict in former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh’s assassination, and Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, a 1993 Delhi bomb blast convict.
They are also seeking justice in the 2015 sacrilege and police-firing incidents in Faridkot.