As the police fortified the capital against farmers’ agitation by raising a temporary wall and installing spikes on roads, the farmers have found it unnecessary and smell a conspiracy to hijack their protest against the Centre’s three new farm laws.
The Delhi and Haryana police recently beefed up security arrangements at Singhu, Tikri, and Ghazipur borders of the capital city in view of the ongoing protest.
Calling it a clear misuse of power, Ronak Hooda, a farmer from Haryana’s Jind district, who is camping at Tikri border, rued that the government is not taking any action against those lakhs of criminals and rapists roaming freely in the country, but against the farmers.
“We’re protesting peacefully for our rights, but the police put spikes, constructed cemented walls, and installed barbed wires in the middle of the roads,” he told The Federal.
“Are UP, Haryana, and Punjab in Pakistan now? Do the farmers sitting on the protest come from Pakistan? Is it the Pakistan or China border?” he asked, while pointing out that China has set up villages in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. “Pakistan continues to send terrorists across the border and to save India from them, our children get martyred every day.”
He recalled Havildar Deepak Kumar of Haryana’s Rewari was martyred in the IED blast on Srinagar-Jammu national highway last week. “That soldier was the son of a farmer.”
“A woman is raped in India every 15 minutes. But barricades and actions are all against the farmers. No country or government has ever done such things against their own farmers,” added Ronak.
The actions were taken to strike fear among the farmers, said Paramjeet Singh, a farmer from Moga district of Punjab. He said the government is now testing their patience and wants to weaken their protest in “unethical ways”.
“They want to stop our food and water supply. But the government doesn’t remember our ancestors like Bhagat Singh, who underwent a hunger strike in jail for 112 days. We can also do the same if water or food supply is stopped. We’ll not go back before the farm laws are taken back,” asserted Paramjeet.
“The world is watching India right now and seeing how the Indian government is behaving with its farmers. Modi said that the farmers and villages are in his heart but he can’t even talk to his farmers, listen to their problems, and sort them out. Modi should save the land from China and leave ours. The farmers can take care of their land,” he added.
Another farmer, Karamjot Singh, 78, said they don’t fear anything. “If the government is doing such things, let them do. If they want to kill us, we are ready to die but we will not go back. This protest will go on,” asserted Karamjot.
“The government says they love farmers, but they have blocked the way for ambulances. Over 190 have died in this protest. Many need to be hospitalised every day because of their depleting health. But the government which loves farmers has left them to die,” he added.
Two days ago, Karamjot said, when a farmer had to be hospitalised, the police were initially reluctant to permit them to go to the hospital through the barricades. “It took nearly two hours on the protest site itself. The person died at hospital due to cardiac arrest. He could be saved if we had taken him earlier. Who will be held responsible for his death? Now they have installed spikes and cemented walls, no one can even go anywhere,” he added.
The Delhi Police have put spikes at Tikri and constructed a three-foot-high concrete wall on the highway at the Jharoda border, leading to Najafgarh. At Singhu, the police have started placing concrete barricades to restrict the farmers’ movement. Workers were seen hooking iron rods between two rows of cement barriers. A four-foot high and three-foot wide concrete wall has come up at the site.
The action was taken following an intelligence input about the law and order situation. It was aimed at preventing the entry of any vehicle from Haryana. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation also suspended Metro services at four stations from Brigadier Hoshiar Singh station in Bahadurgarh to Tikri in Delhi in the morning, leaving commuters high and dry.
Meanwhile, the Bahadurgarh Municipal Corporation called back its sanitation workers from Tikri, leading to unhygienic conditions at the protest site. The Public Health Department too has stopped water supply to farmers. The district administration kept mum over the issue. The situation is visibly similar at Singhu and Ghazipur borders as well.
Numbers of farmers swelled
Despite the police actions, the number of farmers at the protest sites has swelled. Karam Singh, a farmer from Bhatinda, told The Federal they arrived at Tikri to support the farmers after getting to know that the government and police are doing “wrong things” with them.
Not only Punjab, a heart-wrenching crowd from Haryana too have come to the borders. The Khap panchayats in Haryana have decided at least one member from every farmers’ family will join the protest, following which the Haryanvis outnumbered the Punjabis at the protest site.
The Khaps have also taken the responsibility to save Sikhs and Punjabis from any mishap. At least 10,000 people from Haryana are on a stand-by to reach anytime at the borders to save the Sikhs from any action by the police or BJP workers, said the Khaps.
Khaps said, “Sikhs define India. They have sacrificed their lives to save India, and now it is our responsibility to save and stand by the Sikhs. The protest is of all farmers and not only of Sikhs, but we’ll not let anyone touch our Sikhs brothers, be it police or BJP’s goons.”
At least 17,000 volunteers from Punjab are also patrolling day and night with swords to save the protest site from any action from outside.
Baljeet Singh, Farmer’s IT cell head, told The Federal that the morale of the farmers at the protest site is rather high despite the police action. “The government’s action is backfiring. More and more people are joining us due to it. They’re joining in numbers. Our protest is peaceful and will remain so. We will not let mischievous elements hurt our people,” he said.