Gas masks, modified JCBs: How farmers are gearing up to breach Shambhu border | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Gas masks, modified bulldozers: How farmers are gearing up to breach Shambhu border

Feb 21, 2024 08:47 AM IST

Haryana Police urged its Punjab counterparts to seize bulldozers and other earthmoving equipment from the interstate border.

The protesting farmers are set to resume their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march today after the talks with the government for guaranteed crop prices failed. Following last week's failed attempt to cross the Punjab-Haryana border due to heavy police presence, farmers donning gas masks and fortified gear are gearing up to confront security forces and breach the barricades.

Farmers wearing gas mask at Shambhu Border as they prepare to resume their 'Delhi Chalo' march today.
Farmers wearing gas mask at Shambhu Border as they prepare to resume their 'Delhi Chalo' march today.

Authorities have barricaded highways to the national capital with cement blocks, metal containers, barbed wire and iron spikes to avoid a repeat of the 2021 farmers' protests.

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The protesters have brought excavators and JCB machines with modified cabins to withstand potential police actions, such as rubber bullets and shotgun pellets. Many farmers have prepared rudimentary anti-riot shields, and organised gas masks to blunt the impact of tear gas shells. They have also brought thousands of sandbags, intended for the construction of makeshift paths through non-barricaded areas.

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Haryana Police, meanwhile, have requested their counterparts in Punjab to seize bulldozers and other earthmoving equipment believed to be en route to the interstate border. The fear is that these machines could be used by protesters to forcibly breach the barricades, posing a significant security threat to deployed forces.

"It is reliably learnt that heavy earthmoving equipment, including proclain (digger), JCB etc., that have been further modified/armour-plated have been acquired by protesting farmers and have been deployed at the border locations where the protesters are camping right now," the letter written by the Haryana DGP stated.

"These machines are meant to be used by the protesters to damage the barricades thereby posing serious danger to the police and paramilitary forces deployed on duty and are likely to compromise the security scenario in Haryana," it said.

Read: With mobile war rooms, walkie-talkies, Farmers dodge net ban

Punjab DGP Gaurav Yadav directed that all range ADGPs, IGPs, DIGs, police commissioners and SSPs take immediate steps to stop the movement of "JCBs, proclaines (diggers), tippers (heavy trucks), hydras and other heavy earthmoving equipment towards the Haryana-Punjab border at Khanauri and Shambhu by laying 'nakas', conducting patrolling and (taking) other required steps".

At the heart of the farmers' protest is the demand for a law that would guarantee minimum prices for their produce. The protesting farmers are also pressing the government to follow through on promises to double their income, waive loans and withdraw legal cases brought against them during the earlier 2021 protests.

They have been camping at the Shambhu and Khanauri points on the Punjab and Haryana border since their march was stopped by security forces on February 13.

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