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Opinion

Tension in the air stops as farmers march to the capital

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Delhi police have raised their guard and tightened security at the city’s borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in order to hinder a massive protest by farmers marching to the national capital to organize a demonstration against three contentious laws recently enacted by Parliament to liberalize the farm. sector, according to officials.

Around 200 farmers’ unions have called a two-day protest in Delhi starting Thursday, putting the city administration on alert about potential public order problems and a traffic nightmare, and prompting it to announce that any meeting of this type in the national capital will attract legal action.

On Wednesday, a major drama unfolded in neighboring Haryana, where authorities blocked Punjab’s borders to stop farmers coming from the state. While the move worked to some extent, farmers in Haryana defied law enforcement officials, used tractors to demolish multi-layered roadblocks, and continued their march to the capital.

Read also | Farmers at the border for the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march, Haryana determined to stop them: 10 points

Eish Singhal, Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi), said that all requests received from farmers’ organizations to hold protests have been rejected and they have been informed of the decision. “Please cooperate with the Delhi police to ensure that there are no meetings in Delhi amid the coronavirus, otherwise legal action will be taken,” Singhal said on Twitter.

He said additional police and paramilitary forces have been deployed in districts that share borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, and in the New Delhi district. Jantar Mantar, which is the city’s protest site, is located in the New Delhi district. Ten of the 15 territorial police districts share borders with Haryana, Uttar Pradesh or both.

“We have also started a special screening of vehicles and people entering the city,” Singhal said. “We have warned (the protesters) on the phone, we have warned them on social media. If they still enter Delhi, they should be ready to face the law. “

A deputy police commissioner (DCP), who did not want to be named, said officials were keeping a close eye on large vehicles entering the city. “If people come in large numbers in a vehicle, they are stopped and their identity determined,” he said.

District DCPs are camping at border points, where riot control and crowd control vehicles have been deployed.

Metro train services in various corridors will be restricted for the first half of the day on Thursday. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has decided to stop regular services between various stations on six of its corridors.

As tension hung in the air in Delhi on Wednesday, Haryana’s Ambala turned out to be the epicenter of a clash between police and protesters.

Despite calls to withdraw their so-called “Delhi Chalo”, farmers gathered in large numbers near the new grain market at Ambala Cantonment on the national highway. The farmers, led by the leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Gurnam Singh Charuni, took to the roads with tractors, cars and bicycles carrying rations and tents. Officials used water cannons when farmers managed to break through the barricades in Ambala.

Ambala (SP) Police Superintendent Rajesh Kalia accused the farmers of creating a challenge to law and order. “They resorted to stoning … they tried to hit the police with their high-speed vehicles and run over the police … we will present a FIR (first information report) against them,” he said, even as the peasants marched. towards Kurukshetra.

Police attempts to detain farmers also failed in Kurukshetra, despite officials setting up barricades and using water cannons.

“We are farmers and we do not have any plans or strategies, but we will not clash with the police and we will continue our march peacefully,” said BKU state president Charuni.

Meanwhile, the district administrations of the Kurukshetra and Kaithal districts blocked the borders of Haryana to detain Punjab farmers. “Police have been deployed at the state border in Cheeka of Kaithal district and Punjab farmers will not be allowed to enter Haryana,” said Kaithal SP Shahank Kumar Sawan.

Later in the evening, farmers stopped their ride near Samana Bahu village in Karnal district and announced that they would resume their march on Thursday morning. With police diverting traffic on key roads, there was a long traffic jam on National Highway 44.

In Punjab, farmers who were stopped in their tracks said they did not want any confrontations but will continue their protest. The leaders of the farmers’ organizations announced that they will sit in a dharna on the interstate border for a week.

“We don’t want a confrontation. Our goal is to oppose the agrarian laws of the Center. If we are not allowed to cross Haryana and head to Delhi on Thursday, our protest destination will be the border points for a week. If we get the support of the public, the duration of the dharnas may increase, ”said BKU (Ugrahan) President Joginder Singh Ugrahan.

In a related development, the Punjab and Haryana high court said on Wednesday that in view of the losses suffered by the railways and Punjab, it would be forced to pass tough orders against those blocking the railroad tracks.

The remarks were made when the Center and Punjab told the court that the blockade of railways by farmers was still in Amritsar, although those blockages have been removed elsewhere.

Food Bowl Punjab is at the center of the scene of farmers’ agitation against movements to open up agricultural markets in the country and carry out radical reforms in the agricultural sector, which supports almost half of the population.

Farmers have demanded the repeal of three laws enacted by Parliament in September that, together, allow agricultural companies to freely trade agricultural products without restrictions, allow private traders to store large quantities of essential commodities for future sales, and establish new rules for contract farming.

Farmers say the reforms would make them vulnerable to exploitation by large corporations, erode their bargaining power, and weaken the government’s minimum support price (MSP) system, which offers growers government-guaranteed prices. mainly for wheat and rice.

The Minister of Agriculture, Narendra Singh Tomar, and the Minister of Railways, Food and Consumer Affairs, Piyush Goyal, held one-day negotiations on November 13 with leaders of various farmer groups in an attempt to end more than two months of politically defiant turmoil. The discussions were inconclusive, but both parties agreed to continue negotiations in the future.

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