Hindu groups paralyse traffic in northwest over Sethusamudram

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Chandigarh, Sep 12 (UNI) Agitators led by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) blocked rail and road traffic in many places in Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh today to protest against the Sethusamudram project, forcing police to use canecharge and teargas to disperse the protesters at many places.

In Haryana, several people were injured when the police resorted to lathicharge at the activists of the VHP and the BJP in Panchkula when they came on the railway track and indulged in stone-pelting.

Police also fired rubber bullets to disperse the irate demonstrators against the dredging for the Sethusamudhram Canal Project (SSCP), in Tamil Nadu, which they claimed would damage the mythical Ramsetu built by Lord Ram.

Police arrested eight leaders including Haryana BJP vice-president Gian Chand Gupta, BJP's Rashtriya Kisan Morcha treasurer V K Sood and VHP leader Ishwar Jindal, who were among those injured in the lathicharge.

They were later sent to one-day judicial custody by the local court.

In Ambala, police resorted to lathicharge to disperse the activists who had gathered to lay blockade on the National Highway Chandigarh Hissar on Aggarsein Chowk Ambala City.

There were reports of agitators blocking traffic in other parts of the state including Panipat, Karnal, Hisar and Yamunanagar as part of the nation-wide protest. However, the presence of police personnel in large number ensured that the situation remained under control in the state, senior police officials said.

Several vehicles were stranded on the Shimla-Kalka and on the Shimla-Dharamshala National Highways for a few hours due to the anti-Sethusamudram agitation, which caught people unawares in Himachal Pradesh, a report from Shimla said.

The VHP, Bajrang Dal, BJP and activists of other affiliated organisations blocked traffic at Victory Tunnel in Shimla for about 30 minutes and other important places.

However, there was no report of violence from any part of the hill-state during the agitation, officials said.

In Union Territory of Chandigarh, the VHP-BJP protesters put up pickets at vantage points.

In Punjab, normal life remained paralysed in many cities and towns in the forenoon today as activists of various Hindu groups, including Rameswaram Sreeramsetu Surakshaya Manch, disrupted road and rail traffic to protest the proposed demolition of the 'sacred Ram Setu' off Rameshwaram coast for smooth passage of ships.

Rail traffic was disrupted on eight rail sections and around 27 trains were stopped near the protest site, railway sources told UNI.

Traffic was blocked near Nasrala on Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur section, near Tarantaran on Amritsar-Khemkaran section, near Verka and Dhariwal on Amritsar-Pathankot section, near Mannawala and Suranasi on Amritsar-Jalandhar section and near Vijaypur on Jammu-Pathankot rail section.

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