Protesting Youth Congress activists cane-charged near Chandigarh airport

Chandigarh, Jan 8 (IANS) The Punjab Police used water cannons and cane-charged Youth Congress activists, including women, who were heading towards the new terminal of the Chandigarh airport demanding that the airport be named after freedom fighter Bhagat Singh.

A number of activists were injured in the police action.

Police stopped the activists at a barricade put up on the way to the new airport terminal, located on the Mohali side in Punjab.

As the Youth Congress activists tried to break through the security cordon, police used water cannons and cane-charge to disperse them.

The Youth Congress had started a ‘Padyatra’ on Monday from Khatkar Kalan, the native village of Bhaghat Singh, located 80 km from here, in Punjab.

The airport terminal has not yet been given a name nearly four months after being inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September last year.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had stirred a controversy recently by proposing the name of RSS leader Mangal Sein for the Chandigarh airport instead of martyr Bhagat Singh.

Khattar, who had earlier written to the union civil aviation ministry proposing Mangal Sein’s name for the airport, later said that his government had no objection to the airport being named after Bhagat Singh.

“It (airport’s name) can be kept on Bhagat Singh’s name. But they (central government) must ensure that the airport contains the name ‘Chandigarh’ and nothing else,” Khattar said recently.

It was proposed, and agreed upon by the Punjab and Haryana governments, that the airport should be named after martyr Bhagat Singh, a national icon of the country’s freedom struggle. But Khattar later proposed Mangal Sein’s name.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal last month wrote a letter to Prime Minister Modi, terming Khattar’s move as “distasteful”.

Union minister of state for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma recently told parliament that naming the airport had been delayed as the Punjab and Haryana governments had not agreed to one name.

Punjab and Haryana, which have 24.5 percent stake each in the airport terminal project, had agreed long ago that it should be named as ‘Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport’.

The Punjab and Haryana assemblies had, in 2009 and 2010, respectively, passed resolutions for naming the airport after Bhagat Singh.

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