Farmers’ group blocks Ghaziabad-Delhi carriageway of NH-9
A section of farmers, who had been so far protesting below the UP Gate flyover near the Delhi border, shifted base to the National Highway-9 (NH-9) that connects to the flyover, and blocked the Ghaziabad-Delhi carriageway.
UP Gate in Ghaziabad is one of the major borders with Delhi and had been witness to the farmer protests under the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) banner since Saturday.
The BKU on Thursday had given a call for a “mahapanchayat” under the flyover and the numbers of farmers in the area swelled as more arrived from the Terai belt and even from states like Punjab and Harayana.
Soon after, a smaller group of farmers moved ahead and blocked the highway section, while BKU leaders remained under the flyover.
The farmers are protesting the Centre’s new farm laws, which they say are against their interests. The association of farmers are in talks with the government representatives who met for the second time at Vigyan Bhawan on Thursday.
Some of the senior leaders in the BKU said that the farmers had blocked the highway despite calls that it would create issues for commuters.
“There are lot of groups of farmers who had come to the UP Gate site and some went to block the highway. It is likely that it (the blockade) will continue if the government doesn’t decide soon. The decision can be taken in two minutes but the government seems not willing. If talks are prolonged, we will also be forced to continue our agitation,” said Naresh Tikait, national president of the BKU.
The Ghaziabad traffic police on Thursday evening announced diversions and advised commuters to avoid NH-9.
The highway, as per official estimates, caters to about 120,000 passenger car units per day and part of the Delhi Meerut Expressway project linking Delhi to Meerut. It caters to local commuters of Delhi, Ghaziabad, Noida and other nearby areas while it is also used majorly by commuters travelling to Moradabad, Bareilly and Lucknow.
“We have lot of hopes that talks turn successful and farmers go back to work. We have no intention to create issues for public. We want resolution of sugarcane prices and even electricity issue which farmers are facing. The farmers have already raised demand to roll back the bills which have been brought by the government,” said Tikaid.
Tikait was also joined by Dr Udit Raj, national chairman of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organizations, at the protest site below the UP-Gate flyover.
“It is the government whose conduct has forced farmers to block the highway and they have also been forced to sit at Singhu-border. Initially, the government termed that the protesting farmers are only from Punjab. So, it is the dictatorial attitude which has forced farmers to take to highways,” said Raj. “If farmers go weak then workers, who are mostly from SC/ST and Dalits, will also face issues as a result and their conditions will also deteriorate. The bills brought by the government are not transparent and will result in exploitation of farmers at the hand of businessmen. It should be rolled back besides the minimum support price should be fixed. This sector needs protection.”
Despite heavy deployment and repeated talks with the farmers at UP-Gate, the district officials could not get the highway opened up for commuting till Thursday night.
“The one side of the highway is blocked despite our regular talks with the farmers at the site. The police tried to get one lane of the blocked section opened but farmers again resumed protest at the site. Our officers are continuing talks. The farmers however are allowing passage to ambulances,” said Ajay Shankar Pandey, district magistrate.
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