Ahead of another agitation by farmers, authorities are fortifying the national capital by barricading the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh and Delhi-Haryana borders and deploying more than 5,000 security personnel. Several farmer associations, mostly from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab, have called for another protest on February 13.
Farmers are demanding a law guaranteeing a minimum support price (MSP), one of the conditions they had set when they agreed to withdraw their agitation against the now-repealed farm laws in 2021.
Apart from that, they are also seeking implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, pensions for farmers and farm labourers, farm debt waiver, withdrawal of police cases and “justice” for victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.
Security Up At Delhi-UP Borders
Delhi Police have barricaded the Ghazipur, as per a report by news agency ANI. Barricades have also been set up at the Chilla border with the Noida Police on one side and the Delhi Police on the other to prevent protesters from entering the national capital.
On Thursday, thousands of farmers from around 100 villages of Noida and Greater Noida took to the streets, bringing traffic to a standstill in several parts of Delhi-NCR as they made an unsuccessful bid to march towards the Parliament.
The Haryana government has ordered the suspension of mobile internet services and bulk SMS in seven districts ahead of farmers’ proposed ‘Delhi Chalo’ march.
According to an official order, mobile internet services will remain suspended in Ambala, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind, Hisar, Fatehabad and Sirsa districts from 6 am on February 11 to 11:59 pm on February 13.
The decision to suspend mobile internet services, bulk SMS and all dongle services was taken as there was an apprehension of disturbance of peace because of the proposed march.
As per the order issued by Haryana additional chief secretary (home department) TVSN Prasad, the move was taken to stop the spread of misinformation and rumours through various social media platforms on mobile phones and SMS for facilitation and mobilisation of mobs of agitators and demonstrators who can cause serious loss of life and damage to public and private properties by indulging in arson or vandalism and other types of violent activities.
Local authorities in Ambala, Jind, Fatehabad and Sirsa districts have also sealed almost all the entry points at the Punjab borders by raising huge concrete walls. Director General of Police Shatrujeet Kapur said: “We won’t allow breach of peace in any way in the state. Action will be taken if someone tries to break law and order.”
Meanwhile, authorities in Panchkula have also invoked Section 144, prohibiting processions, demonstrations, and the carrying of weapons, according to Panchkula DCP Sumer Singh Pratap.
Urging commuters to limit travel on main roads on February 13 due to anticipated disruptions, the Haryana Police has also issued a traffic advisory suggesting an alternative for people travelling between Chandigarh and Delhi to mitigate potential traffic congestion.
Authorities have erected concrete barricades and road closures at the Shambhu border, while the Ghaggar river bed has been dug up to impede movement.
The partial sealing of Punjab-Haryana and Delhi-Haryana borders by putting up barricades, boulders, tippers filled with sand and barbed wires, has impacted the movement of vehicular traffic, affecting commuters.
Even paramilitary forces have been deployed to prevent untoward incidents and restrict the movement of vehicles.
3 Union Ministers to Hold Another Meeting with Farmers
Farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher on Saturday said the Centre has invited them for a meeting to discuss their demands on February 12. He said three Union ministers — Piyush Goyal, Arjun Munda and Nityanand Rai — will arrive in Chandigarh on February 12 to hold talks with a deputation of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha.
The meeting will be held at the Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration in Sector 26 here, a day before the farmers’ proposed ‘Delhi Chalo’ march. Pandher also shared the letter inviting them to hold the talks in Chandigarh.
The first meeting with the three Union ministers was held on February 8 in which a detailed discussion was held with the leaders of farmer organisations which planned the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march to press for their demands, including a law to guarantee a minimum support price for crops, was held.
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, who coordinated with the farmer leaders for arranging the meeting, had also participated in it.
After the meeting, the farmer leaders had said the central ministers had assured them that they would hold a second round of the meeting soon. The farmer leaders had said their proposed ‘Delhi Chalo’ march on February 13 still stood.
Mann though had said that the ministers and farmer leaders agreed on many things, including the withdrawal of cases registered against farmers during the previous agitation against the now-repealed farm laws and strict punishment for fake seeds and chemicals.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha have announced the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march by more than 200 farmers’ unions on February 13. This has been the second biggest protest by the farmers since they agreed to withdraw the agitation against the now-repealed farm laws in 2021.