Farmers announce blocking highways connecting Delhi with Ghaziabad, Gurugram and Faridabad
Agitated over the allotment of Sant Nirankari Ground for their protest, instead of Ramlila Maidan, farmers protesting at Delhi’s borders on Sunday announced that they will gherao the capital by blocking three highways connecting the capital to Gurugram, Ghaziabad and Faridabad.
Till Sunday, only Singhu border and Tikri border were blocked by the farmers.
The farmer groups from Punjab and Haryana, who had marched up to Delhi on Friday but were not allowed to enter the city, have been camping at Singhu (Delhi-Haryana) border and Tikri border for the past three days. On the same day, the police offered the protestors Sant Nirankari ground to continue their agitation but the farmers refused the offer asking for Ramlila Maidan, which is closer to the Lutyens’ Delhi.
On Sunday, holding a press conference at Singhu border, farmer leader Surjeet Singh Phul said they have decided that instead of going to the Burari ground, they will block three other highways leading to Delhi -- Jaipur-Delhi highway that connects Gurugram to Delhi, Hapur-Delhi highway that connects Delhi with Ghaziabad and Mathura-Delhi highway that connects Faridabad to Delhi.
Phul said, “Burari ground is an open jail and we will never accept to assemble there. On Sunday, a group of farmers from Uttarakhand who had reached Delhi were taken by the police to Burari ground when they said they want to go to Jantar Mantar. We refuse to go to Burari. We have enough ration to survive for at least four months,” he said.
Phul also said that the farmers will allow none of the political leaders to use their stage to politicise their cause. “Regardless of the party, we will allow no politician to address from our platform. We’ve been agitating in Punjab for the past two months and we did not allow any political leader to interfere even there,” he added.
A senior police officer, who wished not to be named, said concerned district units have been informed about farmers’ plan to gherao city. “Proper arrangements are being ensured to minimize the inconvenience to the public. Our teams are assessing the situation and a traffic advisory will be issued to alert commuters, if required. The developments are being closely monitored,” the officer said.
Senior police officers at Singhu border interacted with the farmer leaders on Sunday. Joint commissioner of police (northern range) Surender Singh Yadav said, “We requested the farmer groups to remain peaceful as they have been for the past two days. Law and order arrangements are being adequately maintained,” Singh said.
At the Burari ground, tents were erected and lights were installed, making space for the protestors to come there and continue their agitation. Small groups of protestors even visited the site on Sunday but returned after seeing less than 100 farmers there.
Deputy commissioner of police (northwest) Vijayanta Arya, under whose jurisdiction the Sant Nirankari Ground falls, said a police control room has been set up at Sant Nirankari ground in Burari, to facilitate the farmers and ensure proper arrangements.
“We have over 500 Delhi Police officials and paramilitary personnel deployed here. Proper arrangements have been made to facilitate farmers who reach here,” Arya said.
The border blockage also resulted in traffic snarls in many parts of Delhi. Traffic police posted real-time traffic situations to alert commuters.
In one of its advisories issued Sunday evening, traffic police tweeted, “Singhu border is still closed from both sides. Please take alternate route. Traffic has been diverted from Mukarba Chowk and GT Karnal Road.Traffic is very very heavy. Please avoid outer ring road from Signature bridge to Rohini & vice versa, GT Karnal Road, NH 44 and Singhu borders.” (sic)
Alerting about the situation due to the blocked Tikri border, traffic police tweeted, “Tikri border is closed for any Traffic Movement. Available open borders to Haryana are following -- Jharoda, Dhansa, Daurala Jhatikera, Badusari, Kapashera, Rajokri NH 8, Bijwasan, Palam Vihar and Dundahera borders.”