Updated: February 4, 2021 1:28:59 pm
Even as residents of villages around the Singhu border protest site become increasingly frustrated by the barricading and blocking of passage around their villages, their sympathies largely lie with protesting farmers.
With the continuous increase in barricading and fortification of the protest site, residents of the villages of Singhu in Delhi and Kundli and Rasoi, among others, in Haryana have found themselves barricaded into their villages. Following the violence on January 26, the main exit from Singhu village — right at the border of Delhi and Haryana — to GT Karnal road has also been barricaded by Delhi Police.
“They have cut off our exit from the village, even though farmers are sitting in protest more than a kilometre away. Now anyone from the village who needs to go towards Delhi has to take their vehicle through a narrow path through the village and fields. It used to take a minute to reach the highway, now it takes half an hour, ” said Raj Singh, who has agricultural land in Singhu village.
But he is quick to qualify, “Humein kisaano se koi pareshani nahi hai. Humein is blockade se pareshani hai (We don’t have an issue with the farmers, just with the blockade).”
Radhe Shyam, another resident of the village who runs a business there, also expressed the same distinction.
“This new barricading that they’ve put so far ahead of the protest is of no use to anyone. They are doing it to frustrate the public and sway them against farmers. But why should we get angry at them? They are doing their protest peacefully up ahead. If their issues are addressed, they will leave,” he said.
Many of the locals say that they have been badly hit by the stalling of other activity in the area.
“For the last two months, I have not got any stock for my store. Sales are down by half,” said Raja Ram, who runs a store selling stationery and garments in the village. “It will be for everyone’s benefit if this matter can be resolved and the protesters leave. But the farmers are here out of their own compulsions; the government should take the lead,” he said.
Last week, about 200 men claiming to be locals had gathered and pelted stones at the protest site, in full view of the police. While police and this group said they were being inconvenienced by the protest and angered by the January 26 violence, farm leaders had claimed these men had been put up to mischief by the BJP to derail the protest.
On Wednesday, however, several residents in the area around Singhu expressed their continuing sympathies for the protesters.
“We might be having difficulties but they are the ones suffering the most. I don’t know how they passed the nights in the cold… We are also children of farmers, we are not angry with them,” said Shabuddin, who has a welding shop in Rasoi.
On Wednesday, the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha also took note of the issues faced by residents and local businesses. “SKM takes note of the transport related issues that were discussed by Kundli and Singhu enterprises and is intent on resolving the same to the extent possible,” read a statement.
It added: “We condemn the police action to stop the entry of journalists on the Singhu border. The government has already shut down the Internet and now the entry of media persons to the protest sites and ensuing coverage is being choked by the government. The government is fearful of the reality of this movement reaching the common people across the country and is doing its best to block communication from protest sites. It is high time that Internet services are restored, barricading of main and internal roads is removed, supplies are freely allowed, innocent protesters are released, and attacks on peaceful protesters by orchestrated mobs are stopped.”
When contacted, Rajeev Ranjan Singh, DCP (Outer North), said, “We haven’t blocked all routes. There are many villages here and normal traffic is plying on the alternate road through Jaati village. That road is being used by locals as well as commuters every day since the barricading. Access to Singhu village hasn’t been stopped. Commercial vehicles are also allowed.”
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