Chandigarh: Five days after torn Guru Granth Sahib “birs” were found at a Faridkot village, tension continued to prevail across Punjab as Sikh activists today defied the “one roadblock per district” diktat issued by religious leaders on Saturday.
The Moga district in Malwa belt alone witnessed 21 blockades, it is learnt. The situation was no different in neighbouring Faridkot—the protests started from Bargai village in the district.
Instead of softening their stance, the protesters today adopted a fresh strategy: an ‘Akhand’ path alongside protests at several places. The religious move, which has left authorities at the highest level in the state concerned, was initiated to restrain the police from acting tough on the protesters, said a participant. A religious leader, Panthpreet Singh, was booed by the audience in Faridkot when he appealed for rescheduling the agitation. In Moga, protesters were seen forcing traders to shut their shops. Akali leaders had to face trouble as protesters blocked their way.
Meanwhile, on two recent occasions, when ruling Akali Dal leaders, including MP Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Rural Development Minister Sikandar Singh Maluka, tried to address public gatherings, they were booed at. After that incident, the government functions, including those where free bicycles were distributed to school girls or compensation cheques were given for cotton crop loss, became “low key” affairs.
Sources point out that women and youth are also participating in the agitations, especially the one started by Sikh radicals. A senior Congress leader from Faridkot said it was now a battle between the public on one side and the administration and all politicians on the other.