Punjab & Haryana HC Pressures Authorities Over Protest Blockades at Mohali-Chandigarh Border

Punjab & Haryana HC rebukes delay in clearing protest blockade at Mohali-Chandigarh border, urging action. Quami Insaaf Morcha's protest raises traffic concerns.

The Punjab & Haryana High Court rebuked state authorities for failing to clear roads blocked by protestors at the Mohali-Chandigarh border, demanding the release of Sikh prisoners. Justices G.S. Sandhawalia and Lapita Banerji criticized the lack of action, stating, "Despite repeated opportunities given, neither the State of Punjab nor the Union Territory, Chandigarh, has been able to give any redressal to the commuters." The Court emphasized that hiding behind religious sentiments does not excuse blocking roads, urging authorities to take action.

The protest, led by Quami Insaaf Morcha since January 2023, has caused severe traffic issues. Attorney General Gurminder Singh proposed a joint operation between Chandigarh and Punjab Police, with support from central agencies, to clear the site. The Court had warned of using force to clear roads if necessary, asserting, "Public roads cannot be blocked and the general public cannot be put to inconvenience."

In the recent hearing, the bench noted a lack of large gatherings at the site and criticized the delay in resolving the issue. It urged Punjab and Chandigarh to address the matter promptly, stating, "In spite of the fact that it is well known that all the agitators from the rural background are busy in harvesting and it is most opportune time to remove the blockage of the road." The Court deferred the matter to April 18, expecting authorities to act in accordance with previous court rulings.

The case, initiated by NGO Arrive Safe Society in March 2023, highlights the prolonged inconvenience caused to the public, including restricted access to medical facilities and hindrances for school students. The protestors demand stricter punishment for sacrilege cases and the premature release of Sikh prisoners like Balwant Singh Rajoana and Devinderpal Singh Bhullar.

Legal representatives include Ravi Kamal Gupta for the petitioner, Gurminder Singh and Amit Jhanji for Punjab and Chandigarh respectively, and Satya Pal Jain for the Union Government. The case is titled "Arrive Safe Society v. State of Punjab and others."