After the Supreme Court Thursday observed that farmers can’t block roads indefinitely, the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) said it was not protesters but police who have placed barricades at Ghazipur border on National Highway 9. Led by BKU leader Rakesh Tikait, a group of farmers protested against the police and said they are ready to make way for the public. In the afternoon they removed a tent, tractors, and other closures from their side of NH-9.
Following the Republic Day violence, the Delhi Police had stepped up security at all three farmer protest site – at Ghazipur, there are more than 12 layers of temporary barricades with concertina wires and cement slabs on the highway while the lane that connects Ghaziabad’s Khora to Delhi has also been heavily barricaded.
Trying to break the heavy chains and wires attached to the barricades, Chanchal Chaudhary (55), a farmer from Muzaffarnagar, said, “We are tired of the courts and government blaming us for blocking roads. At Ghazipur, we have always helped the public and made way for commuters. It’s not our fault that the Delhi Police treats us like Naxalites or terrorists. Look at the barricading, they are the ones blocking roads. We don’t want to go to Delhi and are peacefully protesting here. They can remove all this.”
Farmers said apart from the public, they too are affected by the barricading as they are forced to take a longer route to go to Delhi to get basic amenities like vegetables and milk.
Sukhba Singh, a farmer from Meerut, who claims he has been protesting at Ghazipur for over 11 months, said, “My son
and I run a small langar at Ghazipur. We give free chai and fritters to everyone but have to travel from the border to the Khora area and then to Anand Vihar to buy groceries at the mandi. It takes us at least an hour. If the Delhi
Police opens the road, we can easily use the highway and reach the mandi within 15-20 minutes.”
Another group of farmers approached police and asked them to remove the barricading.
“Why are we being defamed for blocking roads? Our tents are on the side, and we want the public to use the roads. We also want them to see us and talk to us. We have been suffering for 11 months. We only put up a few closures because of the weather conditions. We have cleared everything now. Can Delhi Police do the same?” said Lokender Sharma, a member of BKU from Sisoli.he UP side.”
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