A massive army of farmers marching towards the national capital defied tear gas and water cannons and threw police barricades into the river to storm their way across the Haryana-Delhi border at Shambhu near Ambala, to participate in protests in the national capital against the Centre’s farm laws.
While water cannons and tear gas shells lobbed by police, temporarily thwarted the protesters’ movement, reports say they returned in large numbers, armed with sticks and bricks to clash with the police on a bridge near Shambhu.
— ANI (@ANI) November 26, 2020
On Wednesday, several protesters in a similar way had bulldozed their way across police barricades to reach the Delhi-Haryana border.
Thousands of farmers under the aegis of more than 200 farmers’ unions are marching towards the national capital to protest against the farm laws recently passed by the Centre, despite warnings and attempts by state police forces to stop them en route.
Reports say the protesters belong to the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Kerala, who seem ready to clash with security forces to go ahead with their two-day protest beginning Thursday (November 26).
Delhi is on alert and the government has upped security in the city and districts bordering Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, to stop the farmers from entering into the national capital.
The police have told the organisers that their request to hold protests has been rejected due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that any gathering now will attract legal action.
“Please cooperate with Delhi Police in ensuring no gathering in Delhi amid coronavirus, failing which legal action will be initiated as per law,” read a tweet by Delhi Police.
Delhi Police have constructed concrete barricades and deployed additional police and paramilitary forces in districts sharing borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh as well as in New Delhi which houses Jantar Mantar, a well-known protest site.
Water canons as well as anti-riot and crowd control vehicles have been deployed at key border junctions, which are being monitored by district DCPs. The department has also deployed drones to monitor the situation and keep a tab on the movement of the protesters.
New Delhi Deputy Commissioner of Police Eish Singhal said cops are screening vehicles and people entering the city.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has also suspended services to neighbouring cities of the national capital till 2 pm on Thursday. In a late evening statement, the corporation said no metro services will be available from Anand Vihar to Vaishali and New Ashok Nagar to Noida City Centre during this period. The metro services will also be suspended between Sultanpur and Guru Dronacharya metro stations. However, regular metro services will remain available in the entire section of Airport and Rapid Metro lines during the period.
The massive security arrangements have been made after the protests turned violent in Haryana’s Ambala on Wednesday. Despite prohibitory orders, farmers assembled at the New Grain Market in Ambala Cantonment. Led by Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Gurnam Singh Charuni, they rolled their cavalcade of cars, bikes and even tractors towards Delhi. Even though police used water canons to stop them, the farmers broke the barricades to move further.
Similar scenes were witnessed in Kurukshetra where farmers defied water canons and broke through barricades. The farmers later camped at Karnal and Sonipat during the night.
To avoid a recurrence of Wednesday’s incidents, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has ordered sealing of the state’s borders with Punjab on Thursday and Friday. While barricades, water canons and riot vehicles have been arranged on the road from Punjab, prohibitory orders have been imposed in the state.
The state government has also stalled bus service to and from Punjab for the next two days.
The farmers, however, are determined to defy all obstacles to reach Delhi. Many from Punjab spent the night at the Haryana border and have said they will sit on a dharna if the Khattar government tries to stop them.
According to NDTV, the Bharatiya Kisan Union has claimed that more than two lakh farmers associated with it will enter Haryana.
Another group of farmers from Madhya Pradesh led by Medha Patkar was stopped near Agra and their leader was arrested.
Farmers across the five states have demanded the Centre to repeal the three farm laws enacted by it. Even though the Centre asserts that the laws will allow farmers to sell their produce without restrictions, farmers say the legislations will make them vulnerable to exploitation by corporates and strip them off the government-fixed minimum support price (MSP).
The Centre had spoken to farmers’ groups about their demands in a day-long meeting on November 13, where both the sides failed to reach a consensus. The government has called another meeting with farmers’ leaders on December 3.