More farmers pour into protest site at Ghazipur border, extra forces withdrawn

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New Delhi, Jan 29 (PTI) Crowds swelled at the Ghazipur border on Friday as around 1000 farmers from western Uttar Pradesh joined the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) members who have stayed put on the Delhi-Meerut Expressway to demand repeal of agri laws, while several farmers from Haryana decided to move towards Delhi borders to join the stir.

Notwithstanding the Ghaziabad administration's ultimatum to the protestors to vacate the UP Gate protest site, more farmers from western Uttar Pradesh districts such as Meerut, Baghpat, Bijnor, Muzaffarnagar, Moradabad and Bulandshahr reached the UP Gate early morning to join the stir following an emotional appeal by BKU leader Rakesh Tikait.

The crowd of protesters that had reduced to 500 on Thursday night has now again increased with around 1000 farmers joining the stir.

Flanked by supporters, Tikait remained at the centrestage of the protest site on the Delhi-Meerut Expressway, which has been barricaded from both sides, prohibiting regular traffic movement.

However, extra security forces deployed at the protest site have been sent back.

Several farmers from parts of Haryana have also decided to move towards Delhi borders to join the ongoing agitation against agri laws and held protests against lookout notices to peasant leaders and the Ghaziabad administration's ultimatum to vacate protest site.

The farmers claimed that issuing the lookout notices and asking the farmers to vacate the site will not weaken the ongoing agitation against the Centre's new farm laws. A number of farmers from Jind, Rohtak, Kaithal, Hisar, Bhiwani and Sonipat will be heading towards various protest sites at Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur, farmer leaders from Haryana claimed. Backing the protesting farmers, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh announced support to the BKU.

The former Union minister spoken to BKU president Naresh Tikait and spokesperson Rakesh Tikait, RLD vice president and his son Jayant Chaudhary said. 'It is a matter of life and death for farmers, but do not worry. All have to stay together, united in this -- this is Chaudhary sahab's (Ajit Singh's) message,' the RLD vice president said in a tweet in Hindi.

Jayant Chaudhary also visited the protest site at Ghazipur.

The Kejriwal government also extended its support to the farmers with Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia visiting the Ghazipur border protest site to check the arrangements made for them by the city government.

Talking to reporters, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader said the farmers' protest has full support of the Delhi government.

Sisodia said farmer leader Rakesh Tikait had spoken to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and asked for basic amenities.

'On the orders of the chief minister, the arrangements were made at night,' he said.

Kejriwal said the AAP fully backs the ongoing protest of farmers, calling their demands valid and attempts to discredit them completely wrong.

The Ghaziabad administration late Thursday night gave an ultimatum to agitating farmers to vacate the UP Gate protest site but Tikait remained adamant, saying he would commit suicide but won't end the stir.

Ghaziabad District Magistrate Ajay Shankar Pandey and Senior Superintendent of Police Kalanidhi Naithani visited the protest site post midnight to review the situation at the site where hundreds of security personnel in anti-riot gears were deployed on Thursday.

Many of these personnel, including those from the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and the Rapid Action Force (RAF), left the protest site in the dead of the night following official instructions.

'Excess security force from the protest site has been withdrawn and only a minimal deployment of personnel remains there,' a Ghaziabad police officer told PTI on the condition of anonymity.

'Tension was building at the UP Gate due to an excessive deployment of security personnel since Thursday evening,' he added.

According to the officer, some BKU protestors were served notices under section 133 (removal of public nuisance) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) on Thursday.

Ankit Sahrawat, a farmer from Muzaffarnagar, said he reached the UP Gate early on Friday along with 40-50 people.

'More farmers from western Uttar Pradesh districts will reach here. Everybody has condemned what happened in Delhi on Republic Day but now they have made Chaudhary sahab (Rakesh Tikait) cry. Unke aansu nikle hain, wo sahan nahi hoga (Farmers will not tolerate that Tikait had to shed tears),' Sahrawat told reporters.

The Ghaziabad administration made a 'verbal' communication to the BKU on Thursday, giving it an 'ultimatum' to leave the UP Gate by midnight, a move that came close on the heels of three farmer unions calling off their protest against three farm laws of the Centre over the violence in Delhi on January 26.

Thousands of farmers have been protesting at Delhi's borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, demanding a rollback of the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

The protesting farmers have expressed the apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving them at the 'mercy' of big corporations.

However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring better opportunities to farmers and introduce new technologies in agriculture. PTI KIS GVS UZM SUN VSD DV DV DV