Farmers threaten to block Jaipur-Delhi highway as protest enters 18th day; police steps up vigil at border points

The Delhi Police stepped up vigil on Delhi's border with Haryana on Sunday as farmers plan to block the Jaipur National Highway-8, which passes through Gurgaon, as part of their protest against the Centre's new agri laws. The city police had on Saturday increased security arrangements by deploying additional personnel and placing more concrete barriers.

Measures have also been taken to ensure commuters do not face inconvenience, a senior police officer said. A police personnel was quoted by NDTV as saying, "We're fully prepared to control the protests from escalating."

The announcement by farmers' unions to block the Jaipur-Delhi highway comes amid protests by thousands for the last 17 days at the various other border points of the National Capital, including Singhu and Tikri, against the laws. Farmers are demanding the Centre withdraw the legislations.

Farmer leaders on Saturday had said that they are ready to hold talks with the government, but will first discuss repealing the three new farm laws, and announced that representatives of their unions will sit on a hunger strike during a nationwide protest on Monday.

They had also said that thousands of farmers will start their ''Delhi Chalo'' march with their tractors from Rajasthan's Shahjahanpur through the Jaipur highway at 11 am on Sunday.

The Delhi Traffic Police has deployed its personnel across important border points to ensure commuters do not face difficulties and is constantly updating people about open and closed routes on its Twitter handle.

On Sunday, the traffic police tweeted the Tikri and the Dhansa borders are closed for traffic movement but the Jhatikara border is open only for two-wheelers and pedestrian movement.

Those going towards Haryana can take Jharoda (only single carriageway), Daurala, Kapashera, Badusarai, Rajokri NH-8, Bijwasan/Bajghera, Palam Vihar and Dundahera borders as they are open, the traffic police said.

"The Gazipur border is closed for traffic from Noida & Gaziabad to Delhi due to farmers' protests. People are advised to take an alternate route for coming to Delhi via Chilla, Anand Vihar, DND, Apsara & Bhopra borders," it tweeted.

The traffic police also informed commuters about the closure of the Singhu, Auchandi, Piau, Maniyari, and Mangesh borders.

Since these borders are closed, it suggested that motorists take alternative routes via Lampur, Safiabad, Saboli and Singhu School toll tax borders, it said.

Traffic has been diverted from Mukarba and GTK Road. So, commuters have been advised to avoid Outer Ring Road, GTK Road, and National Highway-44, the traffic police said.

Traffic resumes at Chilla border, farmers say protest still on at Noida border

Protesting farmers on Sunday vacated carriageways on the Noida-Delhi Link Road via Chilla following a late night meeting with Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Narendra Tomar, PTI reported.

Officals said normal traffic resumed between Noida and Delhi via Chilla border after farmers vacated the spot they had been occupying since 1 December for their sit-in demonstration.

The movement on the DND and the Kalindi Kunj routes, both connecting Delhi and Noida, was also normal.

However, some farmers of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Bhanu) members, including their chief Thakur Bhanu Pratap Singh, stayed put at the Chilla border in protest.

The farmers had vacated the carriageways around Saturday midnight after a meeting with Singh and Tomar, a BKU (Bhanu) office-bearer said.

"Rajnath ji heard our demands and agreed to take the discussions further and resolve the issues. We were convinced and decided to vacate the road. However, this does not mean that our protest is over," Satish Tomar, a senior IT Cell member of the BKU (Bhanu), told PTI.

BJP ally RLP's Hanuman Beniwal joins protest in Rajasthan

 

RLP leader Hanuman Beniwal, after voicing his support for the farmers' protests, on Saturday joined a demonstration in Rajasthan. Farmers in the state reportedly blocked highways in several places as the groups prepared to intensify the protest.

Terming the new farm laws as "anti-farmer", Beniwal, the convenor of RLP, said if Prime Minister Narendra Modi is equally concerned about the farmers, he should implement the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.

He also reiterated that he would withdraw from the NDA if talks do not turn in favour of farmers. Beniwal along with his supporters also announced that they would move towards the Rajasthan-Delhi border to protest against the new farm laws.

Addressing a 'Kisan Mahapanchayat' organized at Kotputli, Beniwal said the Centre did not hold discussions with stakeholders before bringing the farm laws.

"When the three bills were brought, they did not talk to anyone. We are also a part of the NDA. We are also the sons of farmers. They should have talked to us. They should have told us that they are bringing such a bill for farmers. I do not know who drafted the bills... They were brought and passed," Beniwal said.

He added, "If the prime minister is equally worried about the farmers, then he should implement the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission report."

"These three laws are anti-farmer and the government should enact a new legislation to benefit the farmers. If the talks do not turn in favour of the farmers, I would quit the NDA and if this too does not serve the purpose, I would leave my Lok Sabha membership," Beniwal added.

If the government is not in a position to implement recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, it should guarantee the minimum support price (MSP), the RLP leader said.

Farmers held demonstrations in several districts of the state, including Kota, Ganganagar, Bharatpur, Hanumangarh and Alwar. At many places, toll plazas on the highways were also closed and vehicles were allowed to pass free.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot appealed to the people to maintain peace while holding agitations. "Even on the Delhi-Jaipur highway, farmers should place their demands democratically in front of the Centre and maintain peace," Gehlot tweeted.

Former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot said the BJP-led government at the Centre should abandon its "adamant" attitude and fulfil the demands of the farmers soon.

Pilot tweeted, "Our Annadata have been struggling on the streets for the last 17 days away from their family and home against central government''s autocracy to protect their rights in Corona crisis and harsh winter. The BJP government should abandon adamant attitude and fulfil the demands of the farmers soon."

Farmers have been protesting against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020.

Enacted in September, the three farm laws have been projected by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country.

However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of Minimum Support Price and do away with the mandis, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.

With inputs from PTI



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