After marching for three days and braving tear gas and water cannons amid a prevailing cold wave in north India, thousands of farmers entered the national capital on Friday from the Tikri border as part of their “Delhi Chalo” protest against the Centre’s contentious farm laws.
The development came after the Delhi Police allowed the farmers to enter Delhi for their “peaceful protest” and were escorted by police personnel to north Delhi’s Nirankari Ground. The permission was granted by the Delhi Police after several rounds of discussion with farmer leaders and also after the AAP-ruled Delhi government rejected their request for allowing them to use nine stadiums as temporary jails to detain the farmers. Delhi farmers protest LIVE updates
“After holding discussion with farmer leaders, the protesting farmers have been permitted inside Delhi to hold peaceful protest at Nirankari Ground in Burari. We appeal to all farmers to maintain peace,” said Delhi Police PRO Eish Singhal.
Sending conciliatory signals to the protesting farmers for the second time in as many days, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar invited them for talks on December 3. Farmers want the Centre to either withdraw the three legislations or guarantee them the minimum support price (MSP) for their crops by introducing a new law.
“The government has always been ready to discuss issues with farmers. We have invited farmers’ organisations for another round of talks on December 3. I appeal to them to leave the agitation in view of Covid-19 and winter,” ANI quoted Tomar as saying.
Meanwhile, another group of farmers gathered at the Singhu border have not entered the capital so far. Earlier in the day, Delhi Police used tear gas shells to disperse the farmers who had reached the Singhu border. Plumes of smoke were seen as security personnel used multiple rounds of tear gas to disperse the protesting farmers at the Singhu border. Raising anti-government slogans and chanting “Kisan Ekta Zindabad” and “Wahe guruji da Khalsa, Wahe guruji fateh” farmers in huge numbers squatted at the borders.
Amid the hullabaloo, a farmer was killed and two others were injured when the tractor in which they were travelling to Delhi was hit by a truck in Haryana’s Bhiwani district, PTI reported. A case was registered against the truck driver who hit the tractor, a Haryana Police spokesperson said.
Hundreds of farmers from western Uttar Pradesh are also moving towards Delhi from Greater Noida to join the protest. With farmer groups trying to enter the capital through five entry points, there was chaos on the roads leading to Delhi and at its borders.
#UPDATE: Delhi Police Spokesperson Dr Eish Singhal has confirmed that they have allowed all the farmers to enter Delhi for peaceful protest at Nirankari Road. @IndianExpress, @ieDelhi pic.twitter.com/qQ8sKBOEj9
— Mahender Singh Manral (@mahendermanral) November 27, 2020
Taking to Twitter, the Delhi Traffic Police asked people to avoid outer Ring Road, Mukarba Chowk, GTK road, NH-44 and Singhu Border in view of the farmers’ march. “In view of the rally/ march/protest by All India Kishan Sangharsh co-ordination committee, the traffic police is diverting traffic from Mukarba Chowk & GTK road. Traffic is very very heavy in this area,” it said.
Through the past two days, farmers have overcome multi-layer barricades, comprising iron barriers, giant blocks of concrete concertina wire and trola trucks put up at various places on multiple national and state highways by Haryana Police. As the farmers converge on Delhi from multiple directions, they seem to be prepared for the long haul. Their tractor trolleys are laden with rations and bedding that would suffice them for days.
The Punjab farmers received widespread support from their Haryana counterparts, with Haryana Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) president Gurnam Singh Chaduni saying farmers from Haryana would break all police barricades and “the farmers from Punjab are our guests”.
Chaduni and senior farmer leader from Punjab Balbir Singh Rajewal are leading the march on the Ambala-Delhi highway. “The farmers from Punjab are our elder brothers, they are our guests. Its our dharma to ensure their respect and security. Haryana farmers will break all the (police) barricades and will clear the way to succeed in our aim. First younger brothers (Haryana farmers) will face beatings (by policemen), then the number of elder brothers (Punjab brothers) will come. Farmers from Haryana will be ahead in the march while the farmers from Punjab will follow them. We won’t throw stones, won’t abuse anybody or won’t indulge in any scuffle,” Chaduni said.
Opposition intensifies attack on Centre over farm laws
The farmers’ issue also saw the Opposition intensifying their attack on the Centre, with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi saying no government in the world could stop farmers fighting the “battle of truth”.
Gandhi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should remember that whenever arrogance takes on truth, it gets defeated. “The Modi government will have to agree to the demands of the farmers and take back the black laws. This is just the beginning!” he tweeted with the hashtag ‘IamWithFarmers’.
While rejecting the request of Delhi Police to allow them to use nine stadiums as temporary jails to detain the farmers, Delhi Home Minister and AAP leader Satyendar Jain wrote, “Non-violent protest is every Indian’s constitutional right. They can’t be jailed because of it.”
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh welcomed the Centre’s decision to allow the farmers to enter Delhi. “They should also now initiate immediate talks to address farmers’ concerns on the #FarmLaws and resolve the simmering issue,” he tweeted.
Former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda lashed out at the BJP-JJP government in Haryana for trying to “suppress a peaceful movement of farmers in a dictatorial manner”. “In a democracy, every citizen and every section of the society has the constitutional right to peaceful demonstration for their demands. The central government should also leave its stubborn attitude and talk to the farmers and accept their demands at the earliest,” he said.
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