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Thursday, March 04, 2021

Ghazipur blockade greets Opposition leaders

Police officers at the spot, the MPs said in the letter, "rudely asked us to turn back, showing that there were prohibitory orders. However, we stayed on for some time, trying to persuade the police to let us go".

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi |
Updated: February 5, 2021 8:58:02 am
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Supriya Sule, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader Kanimozhi Karunanidhi and other opposition leaders during their visit to Ghazipur border, in solidarity with farmers' agitation against Centre's farm reform laws, in New Delhi, Thursday, Feb. 4., 2021. Fifteen MPs from 10 opposition parties were stopped by police from reaching Ghazipur border to meet protesting farmers. (PTI Photo)

Fifteen MPs from different political parties, who were stopped by police on Thursday from meeting farmers protesting at the Ghazipur border, have written to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla saying the border looked like the one “between India and Pakistan” and the “condition of the farmers resembled that of prisoners in jail”.

The MPs also conveyed to the Speaker their “strong protest” over the action of the Delhi Police in preventing them from meeting the farmers and urged him to “take such steps as you deem fit and proper to protect the rights of the elected Members of Parliament”.

“They (police) didn’t allow us to cross even the first barrier. After that, we could see some 10-12 layers of barriers. We could not see anything other than police personnel there,” said DMK Rajya Sabha MP Tiruchi Siva.

However, a senior police officer from the East district said, “We aren’t removing barricades for anyone. Nobody is allowed to enter the protest site from the main road. Public, media persons and even MPs can use alternate routes and go to the protest site. We would have allowed them (MPs) to go via the alternate route. Only the main road is sealed.”

Signatories to the letter to the Speaker include DMK’s Siva and K Kanimozhi; Trinamool Congress’s Saugata Roy; NCP’s Supriya Sule; Akali Dal’s Harsimrat Kaur Badal; RSP’s N K Premachandran; CPM’s A M Arif and S Venkateshan; CPI’s M Selvaraj; National Conference’s Hasnain Masoodi; and VCK’s Thol. Thirumavalavan.

Police officers at the spot, the MPs said in the letter, “rudely asked us to turn back, showing that there were prohibitory orders. However, we stayed on for some time, trying to persuade the police to let us go”.

“But ultimately, we failed and came back after an hour. The impression we got at the Delhi-Ghazipur border is like the border between India and Pakistan. The condition of the farmers resembled that of prisoners in jail. Are we living in a police state where elected representatives of the people cannot meet farmers’ representatives?” the letter said.

“We strongly protest the action of Delhi Police in preventing us from meeting the agitating farmers on Delhi borders. We would like the farmers’ issues to be raised in Parliament as also the attitude of the Delhi Police, which is under the Home Ministry. We shall request you to take such steps as you deem fit and proper to protect rights of elected Members of Parliament…,” they said.

Siva also got into an argument with a police officer at the spot. “You cannot remove us… Do we not have the right to stand here? What is going on here?” he was heard telling the officer. When the officer replied that they have to control the situation, Siva said, “What situation? Only you are creating the situation. Don’t force us to go. We have come here to see… you have not allowed us… we will go back.”

Speaking to The Indian Express, he said: “We are all responsible Members of Parliament. We have just come to see the farmers and their condition.”

MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal tweeted: “Today, 15 MPs representing different political parties from Kashmir to Kanyakumari went to Ghazipur border to express solidarity with farmers and demand immediate repeal of the 3 hated farm laws. We also demand an end to atrocities being meted out to peacefully agitating farmers.”

MPs write to Shah

Meanwhile, MPs of 10 opposition parties wrote to Home Minister Amit Shah asking him to direct authorities to restore electricity, water and other amenities at the protest spots.

The signatories include Elamaram Kareem (CPM); Binoy Viswam (CPI); Digvijay Singh (Congress); Sanjay Singh (AAP); Manoj Jha (RJD); Ram Gopal Yadav (SP); Tiruchi Siva, N R Elango, T K S Elangovan, P Wilson (DMK); M V Shreyams Kumar (LJD); P V Abdul Wahab (IUML); and K Raveendra Kumar (TDP).

The letter said, “It is a fact that some unfortunate incidents happened during the tractor parade of farmers on January 26. It has been denounced by the entire farmers’ movement and it is alleged that this violence was perpetrated by some agent provocateurs.”

“But now in the guise of the violence on 26th, government is trying to distort the protest and disperse farmers using force. In many protest places, police manhandled protesters and cut electricity and water supply. Every day, pro-government groups are reaching the borders and attacking farmers. These are very unfortunate and we request you to urgently intervene and do the needful for withdrawing police action against farmers, restore electricity, water and other amenities in protest spots and take strict action against those groups trying to perpetrate violence,” the letter said.

On Thursday afternoon, some workers – under the supervision of Delhi Police – removed the row of iron spikes on the UP side of the barricading at Ghazipur. “These are just being repositioned. Position of arrangement at border remains the same,” said DCP (East) Deepak Yadav.

Tikait’s protest formula

Speaking on stage at Ghazipur Thursday evening, Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait emphasised that the gathering at the protest site should not reduce and that 15 people from each village should always be present. “In your villages, prepare to continue these protests till October… One village, 15 people, 10 days and 1 tractor. Memorise this formula… We plan which crops we need to plant and harvest, this is just a protest… Do your work but complete your shift here. Because the day the numbers become less, people will turn and say that it is thinning,” he said.

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