Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh has sought the deployment of armed forces to prevent any untoward incident on Thursday, when Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) has threatened to force its way into Punjab to dig the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal.
Expressing concern over reports of digging of holes by INLD workers in Ambala, from where the party plans to move into Punjab, Amarinder alleged the Haryana government was not serious about nipping the threat in the bud.
"Only the deployment of armed forces, with preventive action against the INLD's leadership, could foil any attempt to violate Punjab's borders," he added.
Earlier, the Punjab government has deployed forces at Kapoori and Shambu border in Patiala district, about 30 km from Chandigarh, in the wake of INLD's move.
The Punjab government had also sought 20 companies of Paramilitary Forces from the Centre.
Notably, Haryana's main opposition Indian National Lok Dal's senior leader Abhay Chautala had announced that party activists will assemble at Ambala (Haryana) on February 23 and march towards Punjab for the purpose of digging the SYL canal after the recent Apex court verdict favouring Haryana in terms of sharing of river waters.
Amarinder also demanded preventive arrest of INLD leader Abhay and cancellation of party supremo Om Prakash Chautala's parole to control the situation, "which have escalated to dangerous proportions".
"Abhay's adamant stand on the issue, and his defiant threat to go ahead with the SYL incursion even if the Army is called in, is ground enough for his preventive detention," the former Punjab Chief Minister said in a statement here.
He said the central government should immediately step in to order large-scale deployment of the armed forces ahead of the threatened move by the INLD.
"Abhay Chautala’s defiant and provocative statements on the issue could have a long-term, explosive impact on Punjab's peace," Amarinder warned.
"Being a sensitive border state, Punjab could not be left to its own devices to handle the current volatile situation, particularly in the light of the fact that the state was in post-poll limbo, still awaiting the outcome of the assembly elections with no government worth the name at the helm to protect its interests," said the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president.
Stating that the SYL issue had the potential to trigger the revival of terrorism in Punjab, Amarinder Singh warned that the militant organizations would exploit the "fragile situation" on the ground to further their "anti-India agenda if not checked immediately."
"Punjab is sitting on a virtual landmine, with intelligence reports suggesting that many of the sleeping terror cells were getting ready to raise their heads again," Singh claimed.
He called upon the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister to intercede, to prevent further vitiation of Punjab's troubled environment, which witnessed a terrorist-triggered bomb blast just a few days before voting took place in Maur in Bathinda.
"Punjab has lost thousands of innocent lives to terrorism," Amarinder reminded, warning that the dangerous consequences of revival of militancy in any form would be unimaginable.
The Punjab Police has decided to seal the state border to thwart any untoward move from the other side.
INLD's announcement to re-dig the canal drew sharp reactions from ruling Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab which hit back asking the party not to indulge in provocative activities.
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his Deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal had announced on multiple occasions that the SAD is committed to safeguard waters of the state.
Some radical organisations in Punjab have already announced to assemble at Kapoori in Patiala in order to thwart the construction of SYL canal.
Radical organisation Dal Khalsa has taken a dig at the INLD calling the move "nothing but a political mischief and stunt".
Haryana’s Health minister Anil Vij today termed as a "gimmick" the announcement of INLD to dig SYL canal and said its aim is just to "get photographed".
Vij also accused the Akalis in Punjab and the INLD in Haryana of being the two sides of the same coin and said they were playing a "fixed match".
"While the INLD is doing drama, it is already decided that who will use the spade, who will hit with a stick, who will apply red colour and who will take the photograph," Vij said taking a swipe.
"We want INLD to keep digging till Haryana gets water. If INLD succeeds in bringing water through the SYL canal, he will himself go to them and garland them," the minister said.
Punjab BJP leader Tarun Chugh today said the Punjab government and the people of the state will not allow INLD volunteers to dig the canal.
"Punjab farmers can not afford to allow even a single drop of water to Haryana or any other state as there was no water to spare," he said in a statement here.
It is high time that Haryana's opposition party the INLD understands that the resolution passed by Punjab Vidhan Sabha regarding "de-acquisition" of land acquired for SYL canal has settled the issue once and for all, Chugh said.
The SYL is a 214-km-long canal project to interlink the Sutlej and Yamuna rivers and defines water-sharing between Punjab and Haryana. The project has been suspended due to a dispute between the two states and the matter is now before the Supreme Court.
(With PTI inputs)