Chandigarh, May 24: Punjab Congress MLAs, including Leader of the Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, were today arrested while staging a protest outside the official residence of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
They were protesting against the alleged high handedness and misuse of official machinery by the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) during the Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti polls which were held on May 12.
They were arrested under sections 107 and 151 of the CrPC. They were taken to Sector-3 police station in a police bus.
In all, 40 MLAs including Mrs Bhattal besides Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) working president Mohinder Singh Kaypee were taken into preventive custody by the police. The arrests followed a noisy demonstration and 'dharna' outside the front entrance of the Chief Minister's residence and burning of an effigy of Mr Badal, who was away to Bathinda.
Former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and four other MLAs-- Gurpreet Khangar, Jeet Mohinder Singh and Ajaib Singh Bhatti were the notable absentees. Capt Singh has been staying away from all official programmes of the PPCC and did not even take part in the Amritsar South assembly byelection or the Zilla Parishad and Samiti polls.
Chief Minister's Media Advisor Harcharan Bains condemned the arrests by the police and said that it was not called for as Mr Badal had no objection to the demonstartion at his residence. '' The Chief Minister had last night told the Chandigarh police that he did not apprehend any danger to his life and the demonstration should be allowed'', he added.
The police did not have to use any force to arrest the protesting Congress leaders as they all walked into the waiting police bus after setting the CMs effigy on fire and shouting slogans against the Punjab government. They referred to Mr Badal and his MP son Sukhbir Badal as 'murderers of democracy' and demanded the dismissal of the state government.