Will stay put, join R-Day in tractors, say protesting farmers
Reiterating their stance that they will not settle for anything but a complete rollback of the three new laws that seek to open up farm trade, farmers protesting on the Ghazipur border said they will stay put and participate in the Republic Day parade on their tractors in Delhi, if their demands are not met.
Rakesh Tikait, farmer leader and spokesperson, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) said, “Since talks with the government have not yielded any results so far, we are going to camp at the border at least till January 26.”
“We have enough ration to camp here till January end. If the situation remains the same, we have planned to march up to the India Gate in our tractors to participate in the [Republic Day] parade. We want the country to see the real farmers,” said Tikait.
He added, they will cross the border and March towards Delhi on the night of January 25. “We will respond if the government tries to stop by force.”
Thousands of farmers are sitting in protest against the new farm laws on four borders of Delhi --- Singhu, Tikri, Chilla and Ghazipur. Their representatives have held two rounds of talks with the Centre so far, with the third round scheduled for Saturday. On Thursday, farmer leaders had said that they were hopeful of a resolution but will not settle for anything less than the complete revocation of the new laws enacted by the Parliament in September.
Mangeram Tyagi, chief secretary, Bhartiya Kisan Union (NCR Unit), said the ball is in the Centre’s court. “It depends on the government for how long we will stay here”.
“We are not going to move an inch unless our demands are met. We have been staying here for the past one week, we are strong enough to spend months,” Tyagi said.
At Ghazipur, farmers have deployed a volunteer group of 50-60, who are going around the protest venue and registering the names, addresses and contact numbers of the protesters to keep an eye on what they claim were “anti-social elements, who were coming to the protests to disrupt the movement”.
A senior police officer deployed at Ghazipur said the security forces are ready to handle any situation. Even as some groups of farmers who had joined the protest in Ghaziabad from Hapur, Bulandshahr, Meerut and Moradabad returned on Friday, a large group of protesters were still camping at the site.
Meanwhile, traffic towards Delhi from Haryana and UP continued to be diverted, causing jams on the border points and on the nearby roads. However, the situation was relatively better on Friday as the motorists were aware about the closure of the borders and diversions.
Like the last three days, when at least two more borders connecting Delhi to Noida and Ghaziabad, were partially closed, no new blockage was reported on Friday at any border.
Gagan Chawla, 41, an IT professional who travelled from Noida to Delhi and back, said due to closure of Chila border the available routes witnessed heavy traffic. “I heard it was even worse on Thursday. However, on the way back to Noida, traffic is relatively smoother,” he said.
Vipul Garg, who was travelling from Ghaziabad to Delhi also said traffic on Friday was relatively better than Thursday. “Yesterday, I had to take alternative routes to reach Delhi via Apsara border but today since I was aware I avoided traffic jams,” said Garg, a businessman.
The Chilla border (Delhi-Noida Link Road), which was closed completely for at least 22 hours between Tuesday and Wednesday, was partially opened on Thursday. Even on Friday, one carriageway connecting Noida from Delhi remained open while the opposite carriageway towards Delhi was closed.
The police diverted the traffic towards DND, Kalindi Kunj, Dallupura, Khoda, New Ashok Nagar, and Kondli. Although heavy traffic was witnessed in the morning and evening hours on Friday, the situation was slightly better than what it was on Thursday.
Delhi police issued advisories regarding diversions and road blockages.
Anil Mittal, additional spokesperson, Delhi police, said in an advisory, the Chilla border on Noida Link Road is closed for traffic from Noida to Delhi due to farmers protests near Gautam Budh Dwar. “People are advised to avoid Noida link road for coming to Delhi and use DND,” Mittal said.
He added, due to the ongoing farmers’ protest, Ghazipur Border on NH 24 and NH 9 are also closed for traffic from UP to Delhi. “People are advised to avoid NH 24 and use Apsara/Bhopura/DND flyover to enter Delhi,” the officer said.