From 11 am to 4 pm on Saturday, several points on the Western Peripheral Expressway or Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway were blocked by farmers on tractors, to mark 100 days of the protest at Delhi’s borders against the new farm laws. Commuters were either stuck for hours or rerouted by police during the day.
Near Singhu border, a few hundred tractors were placed at regular intervals and two lines of tractors were strategically placed to block traffic. Protesters sat on coloured mats with tea and peanuts being served across the site. The crowd only moved briefly when an ambulance reached the area in the afternoon.
Prateep Singh (30), a protester from Haryana’s Fatehabad, said he started from the protest site at 10 am and reached the designated spot for the blockade an hour later: “We took the Narela road and came via villages. It has been so long since the protests started; we are here just so the government will listen to us.”
A few kilometres down the expressway, commuters on bikes waited for the road to open. Gourav Gurjar (25), who had gone to Bareilly for a holiday and was returning to Rohtak, was among them. “I’m not sure whether to wait for the road to open or to take another route,” he said.
Meanwhile, Haryana traffic police at the spot asked commuters to take a route via Baghpat or Sonepat. An ambulance was deployed at the spot in case of an emergency and police deployed on either end of the KMP did not allow commuters to enter.
Further down the road, there was a similar roadblock by locals from Baghpat. Pratap Singh from the Bharatiya Kisan Union, said, “Trucks carrying essentials like fruits, vegetables, water, milk travel in the morning, so we are not disrupting any services. In case there is an ambulance or an emergency, or a family with children, we will let the vehicle pass.”
Sarad Pandey (36), a truck driver who works at a pipe fitting company in Delhi, said he didn’t know about the blockade: “I was returning to Delhi from Rudrapur in Uttarakhand. Some of us parked here at night and decided to sleep. Had we known, we would have gone ahead and reached home by now.” With several trucks stuck, farmers asked drivers to join them for lunch at the langar.
Around 200 protesters also blocked the Palwal section of the expressway. Arun Jaildar, president of the 52 Pals of Palwal and adjoining areas, said, “We moved peacefully to the expressway at 11 am and blocked the section until 3 pm… There was no friction between police and protesters.”
“We blocked the highway to draw attention to our issues, but we also tried to minimise inconvenience to commuters and residents. It has been 100 days since we have been protesting, but it appears to have made no impact on the government… farmers helped make the PM who he is today; we have given him more support and respect than anyone else,” said Mahender Singh, a farmer from Palwal.
A Palwal police spokesperson said: “Police presence had been increased in the district to ensure there was no obstruction to law and order; special checkpoints had been set up at 8 places along with traffic diversions to minimise inconvenience to commuters.”
“A close watch was also maintained on social media to ensure no rumours were being spread, and that no anti-social elements were able to create problems under the guise of such a protest,” he said.
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