Chandigarh, June 23 : Bharatiya Janata Party activists led by cricketer turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu protested against 13-year high inflation in Chandigarh today.
The protest turned violent following a scuffle as the protesters tried to break the police cordon.
Police, in turn, resorted to water canons to disperse the angry protesters.
Sidhu's turban fell off due to the thrust of water, which aggravated the situation.
Fuming Sidhu accused the United Progressive Alliance of playing with the esteem of Punjabi community and suppressing the interests of common man.
Sidhu said, "Navjot Singh Sidhu will not bend. The claim of central government to be a supporter of the common man is a sham. It does not support them, but it always raises its hand to slap them. They are the people who play with the esteem of Punjabis. They are the people who have suppressed the interests of 90 per cent of the common people. Although, it was a peaceful protest, but now it will not halt. It will spread like a wild fire. Price rise is not a small issue. It is a threat to common man." Later, police defended the use of water canons saying that the action was necessitated as section 144 imposed in the area where protesters demonstrated was threatened.
"They were about to violate 144, which is there all across the north of Madhya Marg. Hence preventive arrests are made. We followed the principles of minimum use of force.... They were not permitted to move ahead. They had two vehicles by which they tried to move ahead. To stop them, we used minimum force that is water canon," said Madhur Verma, Additional Police Commissioner, Chandigarh.
Navjot Singh Sidhu was boarding a jeep pulled by horses to signify backward movement of the country in the wake of steep rise in prices. An elephant in the rally signified a huge rise in the prices.
Inflation has reached to 11.05 per cent, which is 13 year high in response to increase in the prices of fuel and essential commodities.