INLD leaders continue in Patiala jail after SYL protest

Chandigarh, Feb 25 (IANS) Leaders of Haryana’s INLD, arrested after protesting over the SYL canal project, continued to remain in jail in Punjab’s Patiala for the second day on Saturday as they refused bail, said party leaders.

Two MPs, 18 legislators and 73 other Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leaders were arrested by the Punjab Police on Thursday from the Haryana-Punjab border at Shambhu, 10 km from Haryana’s Ambala, as they drove to the spot as part of their declared plan to dig the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal.

INLD sources said that party leaders had refused to seek bail and would continue to be in jail.

Among those held by the Punjab Police for violating orders prohibiting gathering of five or more persons were INLD Secretary General Abhay Chautala and state INLD President Ashok Arora.

The arrested leaders were later sent to judicial custody till February 27 by a court in Rajpura and lodged in Patiala jail, 60 km from here.

With the Haryana Assembly budget session beginning on Monday (February 27), the INLD leadership is trying to make the most of its stand on the SYL canal issue and the arrest of its leadership.

Prison officials in Patiala said that the INLD leaders, including Chautala, were lodged in three barracks and no VIP facilities were being extended to them.

The INLD activists originally had planned to enter Punjab and head for Kapoori village in Patiala district, 18 km from Shambhu, to dig at a SYL canal site. However, they were stopped and arrested at Shambhu barrier itself.

The Patiala district administration had imposed Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code and banned any assembly of five or more persons in the border belt of Patiala district.

Punjab and Haryana are locked in a bitter tussle over sharing of river waters through the SYL canal. The Supreme Court, in November last year, had ordered in favour of Haryana on this issue.