Chandigarh: Thousands of people, especially commuters, faced inconvenience on Thursday morning as security forces sealed a busy section of the national highway along the Haryana-Punjab border that links Delhi with Amritsar.
A 24-km stretch of the NH-1 was sealed off on the Ambala (Haryana)-Rajpura (Punjab) section in wake of the Indian National Lok Dal’s (INLD’s) call of ‘Water War’.
The traffic was diverted, a Punjab police officer said. The NH-1 is taken by thousands of motorists every day to and from Punjab to go towards Delhi via Haryana. While the Punjab Police sealed the highway in the state, their counterparts in Haryana did the same on their side of the road to prevent any escalation.
Heavy presence of the police and central para-military forces, in riot gear and riot control vehicles, were seen on both sides of the states’ border at the Shambhu barrier, the entry point into Punjab from Haryana.
Daily commuters from both states, who travel across the border for work, were the worst affected.
“I have walked for three km already to go towards Ambala. I don’t know if we will get any transport ahead,” Surjit Kaur, a woman employee who works in Ambala and travels from her village near Rajpura town in Punjab, said.
The border areas in Ambala and Patiala districts were put on high alert with Haryana’s principal opposition party INLD expected to start digging of the controversial Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal to get water for the state.
The situation along the border was also being monitored with a helicopter.
The INLD activists and leaders started gathering at the Subzi Mandi ground in Ambala city, 10 km from the border. Haryana Director General of Police (DGP) KP Singh said the state police were prepared.
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 terminated all water-sharing agreements between the state and its neighbouring states, thereby jeopardising the construction of the SYL canal.