Updated: October 29, 2021 10:34:57 pm
As the Delhi Police started removing barricades near two farmer protest sites — Tikri and Ghazipur, farm union leaders Friday said the move vindicated their stand that they had never blocked roads at the city border points. The protesting unions, however, added a note of caution, saying that they were “watching BJP’s latest manoeuvres carefully”.
The SKM is likely to discuss the matter at its November 2 meeting.
Farmer leaders said that any decision to entirely clear both the carriageways at the protest sites will be taken by the SKM.
The police move comes days after a Supreme Court hearing that saw farmer unions arguing that the police were responsible for the traffic blockade.
BKU president Gurnam Singh Charuni said, “Traffic movement was allowed by the protesters in the past too and will be done even now.”
Senior SKM member Dr Darshan Pal, who is also president of Krantikari Kisan Union, said, “Since Thursday, Delhi Police have been making special efforts to make a show of removal of barricades and various other obstacles that they had placed on the roads against protesting farmers. This is happening at Tikri border as well as Ghazipur border. It is well known that the police had behaved like protestors were enemies of India…They had fortified the morcha sites by placing huge cement boulders, multiple layers of metal barricades, placement of sand trucks across the roads and also fixing multiple layers of nails on the road.”
Sukhdarshan Natt, state executive committee member of the Punjab Kisan Union, who was near Tikri border on Friday, said, “They have removed the concrete blocks, heavy vehicles like tipper, cranes etc. The iron railings are still there, which they can be removed manually anytime. Their actions have proved that they had blocked traffic…Now we will decide what to do next. We had wanted to move towards Delhi, but were stopped by barricading the roads. As they are being removed, we will think whether to go towards Jantar Mantar or stay here.”
Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait said, “The future course of the ongoing farmers’ protest would be decided by the SKM, which is leading the movement against the three farm laws.”
Dr Darshan Pal added: “So far, there is no call to go to Delhi. Any future course of action will be decided in a meeting of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha.”
BKU spokesperson Saurabh Upadhyay too said farmers want to go to Delhi, but the SKM will take the final call.
Union leaders also hoped that the Centre would invite farmers for a dialogue to break the logjam over the farm laws.
“If the government wants the logjam to end, it should talk to the farmers now and we are ready for it. But if it wants the farmers’ movement to continue, we are determined to prolong it as it has already been 11 months since the protests began,” Upadhyay said.
SKM member Sudesh Goyat said: “We are happy that roadblocks are being removed and now traffic will be able to move. It will also help in reviving economy here as petrol pumps, shops which are shut for 11 months due to road closure will now start functioning again.”
Joginder Singh Ugrahan, president of BKU (Ugrahan) said, “Delhi police had put up multi-layered barricades at Tikri, Singhu and Gazipur borders to stop us moving ahead towards Delhi. However, in the Supreme Court, they have been mentioning that farmers have blocked the highway….As they are removing barricades, it is clear now that the blockade was done from their side.”
He added, “In addition to this, we will try to sense whether it is yet another plot of BJP as we cannot take any action lightly. Every action has some meaning or motive behind it.”
Another SKM member Balbir Singh Rajewal, president of BKU (Rajewal), said, “It is the latest narrative that they are seeking to spin. Partial removal of these barricades is being taken up, ostensibly to impress the Supreme Court. SKM takes note of these development, and is watching the manoeuvres of the BJP government…”
Buta Singh Burjgill, president of BKU (Dakaunda), who was present at Tikri on Friday said, “We are talking with the administration of Haryana as well as Delhi and later SKM will be conducting a meeting. Hence, we will be arriving at a conclusion as what to do next. It is just wait and watch as of now.”
“Farmers had kept considerable path open for commuters on both sides. But cops had done barricading and later blamed farmers. After removal of all obstacles, it needs to be seen what Delhi cops will do next. We are waiting for the next action,” Jagmohan Singh Patiala, general secretary of BKU (Dakaunda).
Sarwan Singh Pandher, general secretary of Kisan Mazdoor Sangrash Committee, added, “Nearly 12-km additional drive was being undertaken by commuters due to these obstacles. If all layers are removed, commuters can go straight through. SC can watch for itself as to who had blocked traffic. It seems that the fatal road accident at Bahadurgarh killing three women on Thursday morning may also have been the reason for this action.”
On October 21, the Supreme Court had said farmers have the right to protest and was not against this even when a legal challenge against the three farm laws is pending but they cannot block roads “indefinitely”. This observation came amid a blame game between the Centre and the farmer unions.
(With PTI inputs)
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