Cold night, morning drizzle no deterrence to farmers' stir at Ghazipur

·3-min read

Ghazipur, Feb 4 (PTI) Going firm on their demand for repeal of the new agri laws, hundreds of farmers spent another night in the cold and withstood an early morning drizzle on Thursday on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border at their heavily-secured protest site at Ghazipur.

Several of the farmers camped in temporary tarpaulin-roofed shelters that have come up on a stretch of the Delhi-Meerut highway, while many had their tractor-trailers double up as their resting place, and scores stretched out on mattresses put on the key road that until November had thousands of vehicles pass through it daily.

Police and paramilitary forces that were deployed in large numbers here in the wake of the January 26 violence remained on the ground, while multi-layered barricades, concertina wires remained in place along with iron nails studded on roads to prevent any movement towards Delhi.

Iron nails, which were studded on roads around the protest site, were being removed, a move drawing jibes by protestors against the stringent security measures, even as Delhi Police officials said the spikes were just being 'repositioned'.

'The way they are taking the nails off, they will repeal the laws also,' a man from a group of protestor at the Uttar Pradesh Gate (Ghazipur) told a television news channel.

Delhi Police's Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) Deepak Yadav asserted that the security arrangements at the border will remain the same.

'Videos and photos are getting circulated in which it is shown that nails are being taken off at Ghazipur. These are just being repositioned. Security arrangement at the border remains the same,' he said.

Thursday morning also saw a futile attempt by 15 MPs from 10 Opposition parties, including the SAD, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Nationalist Congress Party and the Trinamool Congress, to meet protestors at Ghazipur.

Parliament member and Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who coordinated the visit, said the leaders were not allowed to cross the barricades and reach the protest site.

Besides Badal, who had resigned as a Union minister in the BJP-led government over the new farm laws, Supriya Sule from the NCP, Kanimozhi and Tiruchi Siva from the DMK, Saugata Roy from the TMC were part of the delegation.

Members of the National Conference, Revolutionary Socialist Party and the Indian Union Muslim League were also part of it.

Ghaziabad Police officials, however, said they did not stop the delegation from visiting the protest site at Ghazipur.

'All political parties are reaching there and we are not stopping anyone. They may have been stopped on the other side (Delhi),' a senior officer told PTI.

The farmers protest at Ghazipur, Tikri and Singhu at Delhi's borders have now attained a global spotlight with prominent international celebrities and rights activists talking about the stir.

In its pushback, the government said the facts on the issue must be ascertained before rushing to comment on it, and asserted that the 'temptation' of sensationalist social media hashtags and views is 'neither accurate nor responsible'.

Thousands of farmers are protesting at Tikri, Singh and Ghazipur on Delhi's outskirts since November 2020 with a demand that the government repeal the new agri-marketing laws believing they would hurt their livelihood.

The government, which has held at least 11 rounds of formal talks with the representatives of the protesting farmers unions, has maintained that the laws enacted last September are pro-farmer. PTI KIS/CORR KJ KJ