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Punjab court orders release of INLD leaders

IANS | Chandigarh |

Leaders of Haryana's INLD were ordered to be released by a court in Punjab's Rajpura town on Monday.

Those released included INLD Secretary General Abhay Chautala, state INLD President Ashok Arora, two MPs, 18 legislators and 73 others.

The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leaders were produced in the court in Rajpura, 45 km from here.

"There was no threat from the INLD leaders to law and order in Punjab. So it was decided they could be released," Patiala range Deputy Inspector General Ashish Chaudhary said.

The INLD leaders were taken in different vehicles and escorted out of Punjab's boundary with Haryana.

The INLD leaders were arrested on February 23 following a protest over the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal and water sharing issue between Punjab and Haryana.

The INLD leaders had remained in Patiala jail since February 23. They had refused to seek bail.

"The Punjab government was forced to release us," Chautala told the media after the release.

He said the INLD will wait till March 15 for Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to take an all-party delegation from Haryana to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the SYL canal issue.

"If he (Khattar) fails to get the appointment, the INLD will protest outside Parliament to raise the issue," Chautala said.

With the Haryana Assembly budget session beginning on Monday, the INLD leadership is trying to make the most of its stand on the SYL canal issue and the arrest of its leadership.

Punjab and Haryana are locked in a bitter tussle over sharing of river waters through the SYL canal. The Supreme Court, in November, had ordered in favour of Haryana.