Tuesday, April 20

Farmers march: Thousands headed to Delhi today amid heavy police deployment

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In a clarion call, thousands of farmers are headed to the national capital on Friday with their echoes for rollback of three farm laws enacted by Parliament in September growing stronger. Thursday witnessed high-voltage face-offs between police personnel and the protesting farmers, who forced their way and entered Delhi’s adjoining areas like Panipat, Sirsa, Kurukshetra, Fatehabad and Jind.

The farmers, hailing from Punjab and Haryana, in their “Delhi Chalo” march are demanding the ruling dispensation agrees to hear their objections on the clearance of farm laws which, collectively, have paved way for agribusinesses to freely trade farm produce without restrictions, permit private traders to stockpile large quantities of essential commodities for future sales and lay down new rules for contract farming.

In the last 12-15 hours, farmers have moved closer to Delhi, prompting Delhi Police to scale up deployment of security personnel, stationed sand-laden trucks and water cannons and using barbed wire for fencing at the Singhu Border to prevent the protesters from entering the city.

Here is all you need to know about the farmer’s march:

– Police said they will not allow the farmers protesting against the Centre’s new farm laws to enter Delhi if they reach the borders of the national capital.

– Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava, who visited the bordering areas, said “Due to Covid-19 guidelines have been issued in which political gathering is not permitted here and for this, their (the farmers’) request was rejected. If they still make an attempt, we have deployed personnel at the borders to not let them enter the national capital. We are also in contact with Punjab and Haryana Police.”

– Traffic movement is likely to be disrupted in the border areas. The traffic was also closed from Bahadurgarh towards Delhi on Thursday evening, officials said.

– Delhi Metro services from neighbouring cities to the national capital will remain suspended on Friday in view of the ‘’Delhi chalo’’ protest march. However, metro services will be available from Delhi towards the NCR sections.

– Five sand-laden trucks and three water cannons have also been stationed at the Singhu Border to stop tractors being driven by the protesters, news agency PTI reported. Officials have stated that drones have been deployed to keep a tight vigil to maintain law and order.

– Areas affected by the police deployment include – NH-24, DND, Chilla Border, Tigri border, Bahadurgarh border, Faridabad border, Kalindi Kunj border and Singhu border.

– Authorities in Haryana have imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in several parts of the state to prevent assembly of the protesters.

– Reports of altercation surfaced from Ambala on Thursday where barricades erected by the police on an overbridge on the Ghaggar river were thrown into the river by the farmers after facing tear gas shells by law enforcement personnel. The police, on loudspeaker, asked farmers on the Punjab side to disperse, but that did not help. As smoke from tear gas clouded the skies and farmers outnumbered security personnel, they were allowed to enter Haryana around noon.

– In political development, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal were among those who criticised the Haryana Police’s action.

– Shiromani Akali Dal leader Sukhbir Singh Badal too criticised attempts to thwart the protest. “Today is Punjab’s 26/11. We are witnessing the end of the right to democratic protest,” he tweeted.