Haryana farmers on Friday halted toll collection on most highways across the state while also intensifying their protests against ruling BJP-JJP MLAs’ and ministers.
The agitators have announced that vehicles will pass through the toll plazas without paying any charges on Saturday and Sunday too in response to the call given by farm outfits.
Ruling coalition faces heat
On Friday, sources say, angry protesters showed black flags to state Women and Child Development Minister Kamlesh Dhanda at her constituency Kalayat where she had gone to address a few public meetings. Visuals of the incident showed angry protesters coming to the cavalcade of the minister and policemen rushing to ensure safe exit of the minister. Raising slogans against PM Narendra Modi’s government, the protesters kept following the cavalcade for some distance.
An associate of Kamlesh Dhanda, who was accompanying the minister when a protest was held against her, claimed that “it was a small group of her political opponents”.
“All the programmes of the minister in the villages of the constituency took place peacefully,” he claimed.
At Guhla Cheeka (Kaithal), the protesters gheored local JJP MLA Ishwar Singh when he had gone to address a function held at a college on the occasion of Good Governance Day. As soon as farmers came to know about his function, they immediately gathered near the venue carrying black flags. The MLA kept stating that he is pro-farmer but the agitators in turn kept insisting that he should withdraw support from the state’s Manohar Lal Khattar government. The policemen ensured his safe exit by making a circle around him.
JJP MLA Ishwar Singh was not available for comments. However, earlier he had told The Indian Express that “with the Centre engaged in talks with the farmers, a solution will be found” at the earliest. “I am a farmer. Why would I be against the farmers? Meetings are being called by the government to resolve the matter,” the Guhla MLA had stated, adding that he stands with the farmers.
At Siwani town in Bhiwani district, farmers staged a protest ahead of the visit of state Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister J P Dalal, who had gone there to address a public meeting. The protesters claimed that the minister was forced to change his route leading to the meeting venue because of the agitation of farmers. They also claimed that the Chief Minister’s public meeting scheduled at neighbouring Bahal on December 27 has also been postponed because of the farmers’ anger. However, Dalal told The Indian Express the meeting has been postponed keeping in view the upcoming civic body elections on December 27.
“The CM’s rally will now be held at Bahal in the first week of January. There is no impact of the agitation in my district,” claimed Dalal. Addressing the public meeting, Dalal said the opposition should try to ensure completion of SYL canal instead of doing politics in the name of farmers.
In the past few days, several ministers and MLAs of BJP-JJP alliance have faced protests in Haryana.
Toll collection halted
Meanwhile, the farmers on Friday ensured free movement of vehicles at toll plazas situated on the highways including on Rohtak-Panipat highway, Rohtak-Delhi highway, Rohtak-Jhajjar highway, Rohtak-Hisar highway, Jind-Patiala highway, Hisar-Chandigarh highway, Rohtak-Hisar highway, Hisar-Sirsa highway and Charkhi Dadri-Bhiwani highway. Toll, however, was being collected as usual on Friday morning at Kherki Daula toll plaza in Gurgaon.
According to officials, toll collection was halted either post midnight or from early Friday morning at several toll points in the state. While at many places, farmers took over toll plazas not allowing authorities to collect fees from commuters, at other places toll employees themselves halted the process in view of the protest. The toll plaza employees allowed vehicles to pass through without paying any charge.
At Makdoli toll plaza on Rohtak-Panipat highway, farmers had arranged a temporary stage on tractor-trolleys to organise the meeting against three farm laws. Village elders came to the venue with their hookahs while the folk singers sang ragnis (folk songs) related to the agitation to keep morale of the protesters high.
(With inputs from PTI)
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