Police-farmers clash near Delhi, Opposition alleges ‘brutal crackdown’
The farmers arrived in Sahibabad on the outskirts of Delhi on Monday as part of ‘Kisan Kranti Yatra’ – a march that began in Haridwar and intends to move to Kisan Ghat in Delhi on Tuesday.Updated: Oct 02, 2018 14:57 IST
Thousands of farmers marching to Delhi on Tuesday morning clashed with the police and paramilitary forces at the national capital’s borders with Uttar Pradesh, prompting Opposition parties to accuse the government of a “brutal” crackdown.
The farmers, who plan to march to Kisan Ghat in Delhi to press for their 15-point charter of demands, broke barricades when police stopped them by using water cannons and deflating the tyres of tractors. The authorities have used a law called Section 144 to ban the assembly of five or more persons in several areas near the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border and will continue till October 8, news agency IANS reported.
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“We have deployed sufficient police force apart from several companies of the para military force and provincial armed constabulary. Talks are on with farmers since Monday. However, they will not be allowed to move to Delhi. The Delhi-Ghaziabad border has already been barricaded and sealed near Sahibabad,” said Vaibhav Krishna, Ghaziabad’s senior superintendent of police.
The police crackdown was denounced by opposition parties.
“On International Day of Non-Violence, the BJP’s two-year Gandhi Jayanti celebrations began with the brutal beating of farmers peacefully coming to Delhi. Now, the farmers cannot even air the grievances coming to the capital!” said Congress president Rahul Gandhi in a tweet in Hindi.
Delhi chief minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal expressed solidarity with the farmers.
“Farmers should be allowed to enter Delhi. Why are they not being allowed to enter Delhi? This is wrong. We are with the farmers,” he said.
Samajwadi Party chief and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav accused the Modi government for not fulfilling the promises made to farmers.
“In the last five years, over 50,000 farmers have committed suicide, with most suicides occurring in BJP-ruled states. The farmers have all the right to protest. We strongly support their movement,” said Yadav.
Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Sitaram Yechury blamed the Modi government for the “unprecedented agrarian crisis in the country”.
“The Modi government is anti-farmer. Instead of providing relief to them, they are aggravating the crisis further, forcing farmers to distress suicides. We haven’t seen such agrarian distress in India since independence,” said Yechury.
The farmers are led by the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) and their demands include a loan waiver from the Central government, revoking ban on 10-year-old tractors in the National Capital Region, reduction in electricity tariff, implementation of the recommendations of the MS Swaminathan Commission on remunerative prices and payment of sugarcane arrears among others.
The protesters started their 10-day march from Haridwar in Uttarakhand led by the BKU and on Tuesday they reached the Uttar Pradesh-Delhi border.
(With inputs from IANS)