‘We feared for our lives; there was arson all around’

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Old 23-Feb-2016
Post ‘We feared for our lives; there was arson all around’

Though the tricity remained peaceful during the ongoing Jat quota stir, residents, who were travelling to Delhi, feared for their lives as they witnessed violence and arson after getting stuck mid-way in Haryana for around 48 hours.
As the violence-torn state limped back to normalcy, the stranded residents were finally able to move back to Chandigarh or reach Delhi today.
They shared their horrifying tales with Chandigarh Tribune after finally heaving a sigh of relief.
After getting stuck mid-way, some of them took refuge in shops or houses of unknown families due to fear of violence which gripped most parts of Haryana during the past few days.
A resident of Panchkula, Maj Gen Kamal Chauhan (retd), who had left for Delhi in his car along with his wife Dolly K Chauhan on Saturday morning for a court hearing, said, “It was all smooth till we reached the road between Murthal and Rai where a large number of protesters had blocked the national highway and were not allowing any vehicle to pass. Seeing the arson and violence there, we entered the Haldiram’s complex, but it was closed. We requested the restaurant manager for help, who allowed us to park our car at the basement and enter the restaurant. Inside, there were already six families who had taken refuge.”
He said, “In the meantime, around 100 rioters — I won’t call them Jat protesters — reached there and threatened the manager, who had to finally provide them sweets and tea so that they did not harm the property. As he placated them, another group of around 50 persons came rushing with a similar request. He again had to give them eatables. Later, some of them threw stones at the basement, damaging many cars parked there.”
After much trouble, there was a glimmer of hope for them when a few residents of Omaxe City rushed to help them. “On Saturday night and Sunday, the situation deteriorated. However, residents helped us as well as the other families by allowing us to stay at their homes, where we had to put up till Monday morning. We were finally able to return on Monday afternoon after which our ordeal came to an end,” the retired Army officer said.
There were several local residents who boarded a bus from the ISBT, Sector 17, for Panipant as they were told that they would get some public transport from there for Delhi. However, to their dismay, they found themselves in a catch-22 situation. “After the bus dropped us, no bus or taxi was ready to take us to Delhi as the road was blocked by the protesters. However, as I had to report for duty in Pachmarhi, it was necessary to reach Delhi to board my train from there. Finally, a few of us were able to convince a taxi driver. After crossing a few kilometres, a group of protesters, armed with sticks, stopped the taxi. Before they could harm us, one of the co-passengers got out of the car and requested the mob with folded hands to allow us to go to Delhi,” recalled an Army man, Amit Sapehia, a resident of Sector 52, who was traveling with his wife, Nidhi Sapehia.
“At that point of time, we saw buses and shops being torched in front of our eyes by the agitating mob. We feared for our lives but by God’s grace, they allowed us to go and we reached Delhi,” said Nidhi.

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