The farmers have said there will be blockade in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in case they are “called to Delhi”.
New Delhi: The three-hour nationwide “chakka jam” blockade of national and state highways — by farmers protesting against the Centre’s farm laws was held amid a high alert in Delhi today. Highways across north India, including the Eastern Peripheral Expressway around Delhi were blocked by farmers protesting against the centre’s three farm laws passed in September. In Bengaluru, 30 people were taken into preventive custody. “We won’t return home unless our demands are met”, said farmer leader Rakesh Tikait, whose emotional outburst after the violence during Republic Day’s tractor rally gave a second wind to the protest being held by lakhs of farmers at the borders of Delhi for more than two months.
Here are the Top10 Points in this big story:
- Farmers have blocked the highway from Delhi-Haryana border at Kundli to Palwal. The movement of ambulances and essential services has not been stopped. The Pathankot-Jammu Highway has also been blocked.
- The Punjab-Haryana border has been sealed and several interior routes have also been blocked.
- Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan said they are holding road blockades at 33 places in 15 districts including Sangrur, Barnala and Bathinda in Punjab.
- Delhi, which saw violence during Republic Day’s tractor rally has been under a security blanket. Around 50,000 police, paramilitary, and reserve forces personnel have been deployed in the Delhi-NCR region. Access to at least eight Metro stations has been shut since morning.
- At Delhi’s ITO – which saw violence on Republic Day as a group of farmers made their way to the Red Fort – there has been huge police presence. The police have placed a water cannon vehicle and “Vajra” which is used as a riot control vehicle.
- “There will be no road blockade in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand tomorrow; roads will be blocked in rest of the country excluding Delhi. The reason is that they can be called to Delhi any time, so they are kept on standby,” Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait said.
- The Congress has extended support to the nationwide blockade. “The peaceful satyagraha of annadatas is in national interest — these three laws are not just harmful for farmers-labourers, but also for the people and the country. Full support!” Rahul Gandhi said in a Hindi tweet.
- The farmers today reiterated that the agitation will continue till the farm laws are withdrawn. A series of meetings between the Centre and the farmers’ representatives have drawn a blank.
- The farmers have rejected the Centre’s latest offer to keep the farm laws on hold for 18 months and continue negotiations. The government, on its part, has made it clear that will not withdraw the laws, which have been billed as its big ticket reforms in the sector that would improve the farmers’ income.
- The protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporations.