By evening, as police in anti-riot gear started spreading out at the site, the protesters camped there and their leaders, including Bharat Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait, said they would not leave.
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Tikait also issued an emotional appeal on stage at the site where he said that the agitation would continue. As videos of the farm leader breaking down started doing the rounds, farmers in Haryana blocked the Chandigarh national highway near Kandela village of Jind district.
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Late Thursday, more farmers started arriving in Ghazipur even as several appeals were made by leaders in western UP asking others to join Friday.
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At the protest site, many protesters were armed with sticks and others were seen packing their bags and putting them in trucks.
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They said they feared someone would loot them.
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Ghazipur is one of the three main sites for the protests against the three farms laws passed by the Centre, with farmers from UP and Uttarakhand based here for almost two months.
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On Republic Day, a group of farmers from this site was among those that had deviated from the agreed route and headed to Red Fort.
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On Thursday, the situation started to escalate as soon as police reinforcements started arriving.
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It was then that Tikait took to the stage and broke down while speaking to his supporters. “This is a conspiracy against farmers. The three farm laws have not been repealed and we will not go anywhere… This is a betrayal of farmers,” Tikait said, tears streaming down his face.
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By 11 pm, with no move from police to evict the protesters, the situation began to stabilise. “Three companies of CAPF, six companies of PAC and 1,000 police personnel have been deployed at the border along with local police of several stations. There is deployment on both ends of the border. We will observe and decide on a course of action,” said Praveen Kumar, IG Range Meerut.
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One of the protesters at the site, Gurpal Singh, said they would not vacate the site at any cost. “There is no way we are moving…even if there is a lathi charge or water cannon or even firing. The leaders have made it clear that it is a conspiracy to make us move. We came to the protest with the idea of staying as long as the farm laws are not repealed,” he said.
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Delhi Police had visited the site to hand over notices to him and fellow union leader Joginder Singh Bajwa, asking why action should not be taken against them for breaching the agreement over the Republic Day tractor rally.
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There had been no power at the site since Wednesday afternoon, and protesters said they had not got any water supply through tankers on Thursday. However, AAP government in Delhi has now stepped in to arrange drinking water and other facilities for the protesters there, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said Friday.