Barricades at protest sites, ruckus in Parliament over farmers' demands

·3-min read

New Delhi, Feb 2 (PTI) Cement barriers, barbed wire, spikes on roads and policemen in large numbers dominated farmers’ protest sites on the city’s borders Tuesday as the Opposition created a ruckus in Parliament over the three agri-marketing laws which the protesters want repealed.

Both Houses of Parliament faced repeated adjournments as Opposition members disrupted proceedings, demanding a discussion on the central laws enacted last September.

In Chandigarh, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh chaired an all-party meeting, which too passed a resolution seeking the withdrawal of the new laws which the protesting farmers say will lead to the weakening of the minimum support price (MSP) system.

The protest site at Ghazipur on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border resembled a fortress. A Bharatiya Kisan Union leader, however, claimed that supporters from far-off places are still making their way there to express solidarity.

“But what does this security arrangement by the government mean? Layers of barricading, iron nails on road, barbed wires all around us. Forget humans, nobody keeps even animals in this manner,” Pawan Khatana, who is the BKU’s Meerut zone chief, said.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also commented on the barricades.'GOI, Build bridges, not walls!' he tweeted, addressing the Centre.

'Modi style of governance -- Shut them up. Cut them off. Crush them down,' he said in another tweet.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut visited Ghazipur Tuesday to meet BKU leader Rakesh Tikait and extend the “full support” of his party and the Maharashtra government to the agitation. He embraced Tikait as they spoke to the press inside a tarpaulin-covered shelter off the stage.

When reminded that opposition parties are demanding a discussion in Parliament, he said, “Demands won’t fetch anything. This movement started from the roads and will stay there.” Taking a swipe at the government, he said, “Had the roads on China border been blocked this way, Chinese soldiers wouldn’t have been able to get into Ladakh.” But Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava defended the new security measures at Ghazipur, Singhu and Tikri border points, citing the violence “when tractors were used on 26th January to attack policemen and barricades were broken”.

“Why were no questions raised at that time? What have we done now? We have just strengthened the barricades so that they are not broken again,” he told reporters, reminding them about the farmers' tractor parade on Republic Day.

Despite the Shiv Sena leader’s presence, Tikait insisted that no politics was involved in the protest.

“The farmers' protest is apolitical and no politician including Raut today has been given the mic or space on the stage,” he said.

At the Singhu border too, the Delhi Police and paramilitary forces remained deployed in large numbers.

Farmers there said local people are helping them deal with power outages and lack of water.

'We are facing power cuts at night since January 27. If not for the locals, we would have to do without electricity the whole night. They are the ones helping us with lights and other things, that too without charging us anything,' said Dharmendra Singh from Punjab's Patiala district.

Another protester, Avtar Singh, said local people are helping women protesters.

“They are letting them use their washrooms and toilets. They know that the government is trying to suppress our movement and are supporting us wholeheartedly,' he said.

On January 30, a section of the highway at the Singhu border witnessed a clash between farmers and a group of people who claimed to be local residents.

Internet remained blocked around protest sites.

'The government banned the internet and blocked the roads with concrete dividers so that the public would not get any information regarding the protest and no one would turn up here,' complained Palwinder Singh, from Punjab's Amritsar. PTI TEAM ASH ASH