INLD’s ‘Water War’: High alert on Punjab-Haryana border

Chandigarh, (IANS) Border districts of Haryana and Punjab are on high alert on Thursday with the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) launching its ‘Water War’.

The principal opposition party in Haryana was expected to start digging of the controversial Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal to get water for the state.

Following a Presidential Reference, the Supreme Court in November 2016, held the passing of the Punjab Termination of Water Agreements Bill, 2004, by the Punjab assembly as “unconstitutional”.

The Punjab legislation terminates all water-sharing agreements between the state and its neighbouring states, thereby jeopardising the construction of the SYL canal.

Thousands of police personnel of both the states along with central para-military forces were stationed along the Ambala and Patiala district borders since Wednesday to prevent the activists and leaders from entering Punjab.

The entire border belt of both the districts were sealed by security forces with senior officers monitoring the situation. The Haryana Police would also use helicopter surveillance.

A section of the busy National Highway (NH-1), which links Delhi with Amritsar, was also sealed off by the security forces on the Ambala-Rajpura section in the wake of the INLD move. Traffic was diverted to other roads.

INLD Secretary General Abhay Singh Chautala announced that the party would go ahead with its threat to dig the canal even if the authorities called in the army to stop them.

The INLD activists and leaders started gathering at the Subzi Mandi ground in Ambala city, 10 km from the Haryana-Punjab border at Shambhu barrier.

INLD leaders claimed that up to 100,000 activists would march towards Punjab for the canal digging.

Haryana Director General of Police (DGP) K.P. Singh said that the state police was prepared.

The INLD move was being seen by Haryana’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress as a “gimmick”, given the fact that the Supreme Court has already favoured the state on the canal and water sharing issue with Punjab.

Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh earlier demanded army deployment on the the state border and immediate arrest of Chautala.

Chautala, Leader of Opposition in the Haryana assembly, has blamed Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar of not doing anything on the issue.

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