AFTER BLOCKING national highways for two to three hours in Haryana on Friday, farmers have threatened to gherao New Delhi with tractor trolleys if their demands for loan waiver and profitable prices were not met.
“It may happen that a bigger agitation can be announced. We can go for an indefinite jam of roads, gherao of Delhi with tractor-trolleys and jail bharo agitation,” said Gurnam Singh Chaduni, president of Bhartiya Kisan Union, Haryana, while addressing hundreds of farmers, who had blocked the National Highway-1, which connects New Delhi with Chandigarh, near Ambala.
As part of the call for nationwide agitation on Friday, the farmers blocked national highways in different parts of Haryana apart from blockage of roads at four other places. And, to avoid confrontation with the farmers, police did not stop them from blocking roads, making it a smooth affair for the agitators. The authorities, though, diverted traffic routes to avoid long jams on the national highways.
“We had coordinated even with the authorities of Patiala, Karnal and Panchkula to divert routes of heavy vehicles far way from Ambala,” said Prabhjot Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Ambala, who kept monitoring security arrangements for hours when the farmers were sitting on the national highway. Despite that, there was a near traffic jam in Ambala when traffic was not being allowed on the national highway because of the farmers’ stir. The farmers also blocked National Highway 71A which connects Panipat-Rohtak near village Rukhi (Sonepat) with another highway, which connects Chandigarh and Hisar, near Barwala town. Haryana DGP BS Sandhu said the agitation was completely peaceful throughout the state.
A senior officer said Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar was taking feedback about the agitation from the district authorities every five minutes. In support of farmers, former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda held a panchayat at Pipli (Kurukshetra) while INLD held protests at district headquarters in support of the agitating farmers.
Farmers, who had reached the protest site in Ambala district on their tractor-trolleys, were perturbed over the manner in which their crops were not purchased at reasonable prices. Harbhajan Singh (52), a farmer from Nalvi village in Kurukshetra, said, “We opted for sunflower and potato hoping good prices as the government keeps stressing on crop diversification. But, lack of appropriate arrangement for better procurement dashed our hopes.”
Explaining in depth, Jogender Singh, an owner of five acres of land at Mamumajra village in Kurukshetra, said, “Last year, we had paddy but we were offered Rs 200 per quintal less than the minimum support price for it. Then, we opted for potatoes but we were offered just Rs 1 per kg in the market while its production cost was Rs 7 per kg. Now, the government has announced Rs 3,950 per quintal MSP of sunflower. But, the government says it will buy only 25 per cent of the production of farmers at the rate of MSP. Where can we sell our rest of the crop now?”
Another sunflower farmer, Rajbir Singh, who has 4.5 acres of land, said, “The government is ready to buy only 25 per cent of the sunflower crops at MSP and to sell rest of the crop, the farmers have to depend on traders, who offer only Rs 2,500 per quintal for this crop in the open market.”
Echoing similar sentiments, farmer Jasbir Singh said, “If we sell the sunflower crop at the rate of Rs 2,500 per quintal, then we will be able to meet just our expenditure and there would not be any saving for us.”
Chaduni said, “We will hold a panchayat in Shahbad on Saturday to demand MSP for the entire crop of sunflower.”
Haryana police, meanwhile, have filed FIRs against hundreds of farmers in connection with the blockage of roads by them in different parts of the state on Friday. The police in Rohtak district have filed two FIRs in connection with the blocking of highways — Rohtak-Panipat and Rohtak-Jind. Rohtak SP Pankaj Nain said 42 farmers have been named from about 120 others in two cases lodged in this connection.