With the number of protesters at Delhi’s borders growing by the day, senior officers in Haryana Police said the borders can’t take more people as “the situation is increasingly turning unsustainable”. Haryana Police said more than 60,000 protesters are camping at the borders while the farmer leaders said the figure is higher. Apart from far flung areas of Punjab, farmers have been arriving from Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and other parts of the country to join the protest.
To curb further movement, police have installed nakas at the Punjab and Haryana borders. “The idea is that people feel there is police presence at the borders to minimise movement of protesters,” said a Haryana police officer.
When contacted, Haryana DGP Manoj Yadava said, “We have made preparations that if we need to seal the borders, we should be able to do it. As of now, borders have not been sealed to avoid inconvenience to commuters.”
Two national highways, Delhi-Ambala and Delhi-Hisar, are blocked and anyone wanting to enter Delhi has to travel several kilometres via link roads through villages.
An officer, requesting anonymity, further said: “We are in contact with farmer leaders, urging them to not increase the number of protesters at Delhi borders. If any major development takes place, we will reason and negotiate with them and try to stop them, if necessary. We have appealed to the Punjab government too that more people should not be sent to the Delhi borders… With winter setting in, we would try to ensure the numbers don’t go up further. The situation is increasingly becoming unsustainable; more than 30-40 people have been hospitalised due to different illnesses.”
On the other hand, farmers at Singhu border said they won’t budge unless the farm laws are repealed. “Fateh karke hi jayenge (We will return only after winning the battle),” said Puran Singh, who travelled 520 km from Bachivind village on Punjab’s Atari border to Singhu. His tractor was part of a cavalcade of 100 tractor trolleys that arrived from villages in Punjab.
“If these laws are introduced, we will turn into labourers on our own fields. Till now, we have been leading a life of our choice… We have brought ration for six months to continue our agitation, we won’t return empty handed,” added Singh.
Said Sukhdev Singh, a farmer from Dinewal village in Punjab’s Tarn Taran district, “Our struggle will continue till the black laws are withdrawn.”
Many of them feel the corporates will grab their land if the laws are introduced. “Introduction of these laws have given us pain,” said Malkiyat Singh, a resident of village Kalan (Tarn Taran). Another farmer from the same area, Sucha Singh, added, “Our ancestors made many sacrifices for the freedom of our country. Now, we are ready for any sacrifice to save our land. If needed, the next generation will also make sacrifices for the cause.”
Jamhoori Kisan Sabha leader Pargat Singh Jamarai told The Indian Express that the agitation will be intensified if the “anti-farmer” laws are not repealed soon. He also urged authorities to arrange for more mobile toilets at the borders, saying shortage of facilities has become a major problem. “Mobile toilets arranged by Haryana and Delhi authorities have turned dysfunctional in the absence of regular cleaning,” he said. The Indian Express found dysfunctional toilets near the main protest site.
A senior officer in the Haryana government said more than 300 toilets have been arranged at the borders, apart from deployment of safai karamcharis there. However, the officer admitted that sanitation and water supply shortage is an issue.
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