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Punjab and Haryana High Court orders removal of barricades at Shambhu border

HC observed that situation had significantly improved, with fewer protesters now present, making it feasible to reopen highway

Reported by:  With Inputs From Preet Mehta  Edited by:  Jasleen Kaur -- July 10th 2024 02:17 PM
Punjab and Haryana High Court orders removal of barricades at Shambhu border

Punjab and Haryana High Court orders removal of barricades at Shambhu border

PTC Web Desk: More than five months after the “unlawful sealing of the border between Haryana and Punjab” to prevent farmers from “protesting peacefully” came under judicial scrutiny, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday ordered the removal of barricades at the Shambhu border. A Division Bench of the HC, hearing a series of petitions, instructed the states of Punjab and Haryana to coordinate with each other to clear the barricades.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court's direction addresses growing concerns about traffic disruption and its impact on daily commuters and transportation. In the previous hearing, the Bench had directed both states to submit detailed affidavits on the ongoing highway blockade at the Shambhu border. The states were asked to specify the duration of the closures and provide comprehensive details on the timeline of the highway blockades, including when they began and their expected duration.

The Bench noted, “It is pointed out that the highways/national highways at the Shambhu border continue to be blocked, causing inconvenience to commuters. Accordingly, both the states of Punjab and Haryana shall submit their affidavits regarding this aspect, by the next date of hearing, giving the details as to when it was closed and for how long the said position would continue.”

One of the petitions was filed by city-based advocate Uday Pratap Singh, seeking an urgent interim order to halt all "obstructive actions" by the governments of Punjab, Haryana, and the Union of India against the farmers' “peaceful” protests. Singh highlighted that the road blockade not only inconvenienced locals but also hindered the movement of pedestrians, ambulances, school buses, and other vehicles.

Today, while hearing the pleas, the High Court directed the Haryana Government to reopen the highway that has been closed for the past six months. In response, the Haryana Government stated that the protesters are sitting on the Punjab side of the border on NH 44. The Haryana Government mentioned that previous attempts to resolve the situation had resulted in deteriorating conditions.

The Haryana Government said "they could reopen the highway within five minutes if Punjab allowed the protesters to remain in their territory, but claimed that Punjab was not providing the necessary space".

The High Court remarked that if the protesters wished to go to Delhi, they should be allowed to do so, suggesting that Haryana was escalating the conflict unnecessarily. The court emphasised that the Central Government should intervene, as the protesters aim to meet with central authorities.

The High Court ordered that the highway be reopened within a week, stressing that people travelling to Delhi had been facing difficulties for the past six months. It asked the Haryana Government to consider the plight of these commuters.

In response, the Haryana Government recalled that the last time the protesters were allowed to proceed, there were significant law and order issues. The High Court called for cooperation between Haryana and Punjab to facilitate the reopening of the highway.

The Haryana Government reported that approximately 450 to 500 protesters were still camping at the border. The court noted that the continued closure of the highway was wasting both time and money for the public. Additionally, it was mentioned that protesters were also positioned at the Khanauri border.

The High Court observed that the situation had significantly improved, with fewer protesters now present, making it feasible to reopen the highway. Declaring the highway as a crucial lifeline, the court ordered that the barricades be removed within a week.

The court instructed farmer organisations to ensure that law and order are maintained, and directed both Punjab and Haryana to oversee the situation. The High Court has mandated that the Shambhu border be reopened within a week.

- With inputs from our correspondent

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