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Anti riot protests shutdown Punjab
Published on 4 Nov. 2009 12:04 AM IST
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Trains were stopped, road traffic was hit and schools and colleges were closed in many Punjab towns as radical organisations called for a one-day shutdown Tuesday to protest denial of justice to the families of thousands of people killed in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The call for the strike was given by the radical Sikh organisation Dal Khalsa and was supported by the Khalsa Action Committee (KAC), Damdami Taksal, Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak committee (DSGPC) and Shiromani Panthic Council. “We have not got justice for Sikhs in the last 25 years. We want the deaf government in the centre to listen to our demands,” Dal Khalsa leader Kanwarpal Singh said. Dal Khalsa activists stopped trains at the Amritsar railway station Tuesday morning. The Amritsar-New Delhi Shatabdi Express, Sachkhand Express, Dadar Express, Superfast Express and other trains were stopped by the activists. Scores of Dal Khalsa members squatted on the rail tracks and blocked trains. The Shatabdi Express was later cancelled by railway authorities, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded. Shops in some areas of major cities, petrol pumps and a few banks also remained closed in the first half of the day. Schools in various cities were shut by the authorities. Bus services and other modes of public transport were also affected. Police in Amritsar stopped a group of about 50 Sikh youth on motorcycles moving around in the city brandishing kirpans (swords). Police officials stopped them near the Hall Gate and confiscated the kirpans. There was a minor clash between the two sides but later the youth were allowed to leave and protest peacefully. Road and railway traffic was also affected near Rajpura town, 40 km from Chandigarh. Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal urged that protests should be peaceful. “We will ensure that law and order is maintained. People can protest peacefully,” Badal said. The strike did not have much effect in the industrial and commercial city of Ludhiana. However, protesters blocked one over-bridge in the heart of the city. India’s then prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards Oct 31, 1984. The assassination led to widespread riots against Sikhs across the country, with thousands being killed and thousands more rendered homeless.

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