Farmers' protest: A fortress in making in Ghazipur

·2-min read

New Delhi, Feb 1 (PTI) With parked DTC buses sealing main entry points, multi-layered security arrangements and check points -- both by police and farmers' union volunteers -- Ghazipur, the new focal point of the ongoing farmers' agitation, witnessed heightened restrictions on Monday.

The Delhi-UP border site, which is galvanising farmers from Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand days after BKU leader Rakesh Tikait's emotional appeal, is a fortress in the making with security arrangements being amplified with every passing day.

Concertina wires -- a new addition in at least three points -- boulders in between the barriers. No major road is open for movement of vehicles and people which is proving to be a growing problem for many passing the stretch.

Rakesh Tikait, the star farmer leader, while addressing a packed crowd from the main stage also mentioned the newly put barbed wires in his speech.

'They (the administration) have put these barbed wires, not us. They are not allowing people to come to Delhi. We are not the one blocking the roads. If we block roads, they ask us to vacate, but no action is taken when the same is done by these security forces,' he said to a cheering crowd.

On Wednesday night, the atmosphere was tense at Ghazipur. The Ghaziabad administration had issued an 'ultimatum' to the protesters to vacate a stretch of the Delhi-Meerut expressway they were occupying as the January 26 clashes painted a not-so-peaceful picture of the peasant community.

As security presence at the site escalated, fears grew that the protesters would be forcibly evicted, but the emotional outburst of Rakesh Tikait saved the day -- and possibly the whole movement -- and people in tens of thousands started converging at the protest site in support of the agitation.

Many commuters complained that the heightened security measures and new restrictions on routes day after day are affecting their daily commute. 'Since December we were facing problems with this stretch, but the security and restrictions has been grown by leaps and bounds. The interior routes which they have not barricaded -- as of yet -- are not only congested but are in a pathetic condition, making them too dangerous to travel on,' said Navdeep Kumar, a regular commuter of the National Highway-24.

To keep at bay an unruly crowd and any possible plot to disturb the peaceful movement, the volunteers have taken the matter into their own hands. They are maintaining high vigil in the area by setting up multiple-check points.

'We don't allow locals to enter without any rhyme or reason. Even if you are media, you have to show your id-card for entry. The drill is applied round the clock,' said a volunteer, standing next to a make-shift checkpoint. PTI MG GVS AAR