MOHALI: Police used a water cannon to disperse AAP workers forcing their way to "gherao" the residence of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh at Siswan here in protest against frequent power cuts, and later booked 23 party leaders for violation of COVID-19 protocols.
Police named 23 people, including AAP MP Bhagwant Mann and MLAs Harpal Singh Cheema, Meet Hayer, Manjit Singh Bilaspur, Kulwant Singh Pandori and Baldev Singh, in the FIR registered under IPC section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and the Disaster Management Act, an officer said.
Two hundred unidentified persons have been booked for violation of COVID-19 protocols in the case registered at Mullanpur police station in Mohali.
The police also briefly detained several AAP leaders, including Mann, Cheema and Meet Hayer.
The protesting Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) workers, led by its Punjab unit chief Mann, shouted slogans against the Congress government over the power shortage.
Police personnel were deployed in strength and multi-layered barricades were put up on the road leading to the chief minister's farmhouse.
As scores of AAP workers carrying party flags forced their way through the first layer of barricades and reached the second, police used a water cannon to disperse them.
In the melee, turbans of several protesters came off.
Punjab has been reeling under an unprecedented power shortage with urban and rural areas facing long hours of load shedding amid scorching heat.
The Punjab government had already ordered reduction in timings of state government offices and reduced power supply to high energy consuming industries.
The Amarinder Singh-led government has been under fire from the opposition for not being able to provide sufficient electricity to consumers, especially to paddy growers for sowing crop.
Earlier, the AAP leaders slammed the Congress government for having "failed" to provide 24-hour power to people at cheaper rates.
Addressing the protesters, Mann said they had gathered to express the "grief" of 2.75 crore people of Punjab to the chief minister who he alleged was "sleeping in his farmhouse".
He said that at Rs 10 per unit, electricity in Punjab was "the most expensive" in the country.
He said people are forced to stage dharnas on road in this scorching heat because of power cuts.
The MP from Sangrur also said Singh should approach Prime Minister Narendra Modi to resolve the issues of the farmers and get all the three "black laws" repealed.
Farmers have been protesting against the Centre's three farm laws enacted last year.
Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Harpal Singh Cheema alleged the state exchequer was being "looted" by private power companies.
He alleged that Singh had neither fulfilled his election promises nor ended the "mafia" rule.
"Even today, the people of Punjab are suffering due to expensive sand, gravel, electricity, petrol and diesel," he added.