Singhu tense amid high security, counter-protest
- Around 12pm, around 50 people gathered near the KMSC stage raising slogans against the farmers and demanding that the protest at Singhu border be cleared.
Increased police presence, freshly dug up trenches, additional concrete barriers separating two protest sites and counter protests demanding immediate removal of the agitating farmers from the highway were witnessed at Singhu border, one of the three major sites of farmers’ protest in the Capital, on Thursday.
Farmers said police had installed additional concrete barriers between the two stages, practically cutting one’s access to the other and thus making the group sitting close to the Delhi border vulnerable — an allegation the police sought to play down — and forcing many protesters to use longer routes through inner lanes to enter the main protest area.
Ghanshyam Bansal, additional deputy commissioner of police (outer-north), said, “These barricades were present from the early days of the protest. They had been displaced in between and are now being put back in their place.”
The protest site at the Singhu border is divided into two parts: the main Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) stage and the Kisaan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC) stage, situated 500 metres away. Until Thursday, the farmers could move from one site to another using a narrow passage but now that has been blocked, the farmers alleged.
Gurpreet Singh, 25, a farmer from Hoshiarpur in Punjab, said, “Now, protesters at the first (KMSC) stage will face difficulty in coming towards the main stage. Movement between the two stages has been restricted.”
Around 12pm, around 50 people gathered near the KMSC stage raising slogans against the farmers and demanding that the protest at Singhu border be cleared.
One of them, Mohan Bhardwaj, 42, a resident of Bawana, said, “We had been sympathetic to their cause so far because we too are farmers. But when we saw their actions during Republic Day, when they insulted the tricolour at Red Fort, we knew that they were not farmers. This is why we want them to be removed.”
On January 26, a section of farmers had stormed the monument and installed religious flags on its domes.
Bhardwaj said, “Today, we came here to talk to them and give a warning. Tomorrow, we will return with people from 50 villages and get the protest site cleared. We are talking to them (the farmers) politely but if they don’t listen, we’ll do what they did.”
Sudhir Chauhan, 34, who claimed he was the president of the collective Hindu Yuva Seva Sangh that organised the protest, said, “Locals have suffered due to this (farmers’) protest. The distance that could be covered in 15 minutes took two hours. We won’t tolerate that anymore because these are not farmers. They are anti-nationals.”
Along with members of the collective, local workers of Hindu Sena were also present at the spot. “We had not given any call to reach Singhu border but I got to know that some of our workers had reached the spot with local residents. These workers did not like the action of the farmers during Republic Day which is why they went to protest,” said Vishnu Gupta, national president.
Members of Delhi Dehat Vikas Manch – a collective of around 50 villages in Delhi – had also reached the area along with their supporters and members. Anup Singh Maan, 78, a resident of Alipur and general secretary of the group, said, “We had extended an invitation to farmers to talk to us but they denied. We will hold meetings among ourselves and decide what to do on Friday,” he said.
The protesting group included members of Hindu Sena, and Delhi Dehat Vikas Manch – a collective of around 50 villages in Delhi.
The group dispersed at around 2.30 pm – around 30 minutes after SKM started a “sadhbhawna yatra” (goodwill rally) on the Kundli highway covering over 16 kilometres. With tricolour hoisted over their tractors and other vehicles, farmer leaders including Balbir Singh Rajewal, Jagjeet Singh Dallewal, Darshan Pal, Gurnam Singh Chaduni, Jagmohan Singh, Jangbir Singh, Rajinder Singh, Amarjeet Singh and others participated in the yatra aimed at reinforcing feeling of unity among farmers.
Reacting to the notices sent to farmer leaders on Wednesday, SKM, in a statement on Thursday, said: “Instead of taking action against the real criminals, the police are arresting farmers who were protesting peacefully.”
Meanwhile, due to increased barricading and the presence of trenches, locals also faced problems in commuting with many being forced to take longer routes covering the interiors of villages on foot.