Chandigarh: As the farmers' 'Delhi Chalo' protest march began on Tuesday Feb 13, the Haryana government beefed up security and fortified borders with Punjab at several places to foil the march, sources said. Thousands of farmers are marching towards Delhi on Tuesday Feb 13 after a meeting with two Union ministers over their demands, including legal guarantee to MSP for crops, remained inconclusive.
In a bid to foil the farmers' protest march, authorities in Haryana have fortified the state's borders with Punjab at many places in Ambala, Jind, Fatehabad, Kurukshetra and Sirsa by setting up concrete blocks, iron nails and barbed wire. Besides, the Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar led BJP government has also imposed restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC in as many as 15 districts and banned any kind of demonstration or march with tractor trolleys.
A heavy police force was seen manning the checkpoint at Shambhu border near Ambala to prevent the farmers' march towards the national capital. Similar restrictions were in place at the Tikri border. DSP Jhajjar, Shamsher Singh said that police have made adequate security arrangements at Tikri border in view of the farmers' protest march. Singh said that CCTV cameras and mics have been put in place adding action will be taken according to the situation as it unfolds later in the day.
Meanwhile, farmers from Punjab on Tuesday morning set out on their 'Delhi Chalo' march around 10 am from Fatehgarh Sahib and are moving towards Delhi via Shambhu border. Another group is moving towards the national capital from Mehal Kalan in Sangrur through the Khanauri border. The farmers plan to head to Delhi from the Ambala-Shambhu, Khanauri-Jind and the Dabwali borders.
On the tractor trolleys sporting flags of the farm unions, farmers packed essential items, including dry ration, mattresses and utensils, among others. An excavator was also among the convoy of tractor trolleys, with a farmer in Amritsar saying it would be used to break the barricades. Ahead of the farmers protest march, security was beefed up in the national capital to deal with the situation.
Delhi Eastern Range's Additional CP Sagar Singh Kalsi said that they have made very strict arrangements regarding the 'Delhi Chalo' march called by farmer organizations. “Our aim is to stop the farmers peacefully and the common people do not face any inconvenience due to traffic…We are trying our best to deal with this situation peacefully," Kalsi said.
After the second round of meeting between the Centre and the farm leaders that lasted more than five hours on Monday, Sarwan Singh Pandher general secretary of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee said, "We do not think the government is serious about any of our demands. We do not think they want to fulfill our demands. Tomorrow, we will march towards Delhi at 10 am."
Union Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda, who, along with Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal, attended the second round of talks with the farm leaders, said a consensus was reached on most issues and a formula was proposed for resolving some others through the formation of a committee. "We are still hopeful that farmer bodies will hold talks. We will try to resolve issues in the coming days," Munda said after the meeting.
Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal said the government wanted the formation of a committee on the issues of giving legal guarantee to MSP, debt waiver and the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations. "We will apprise our farmers in a forum what happened in the meeting," he said.
"It is our compulsion to move towards Delhi," he added when asked about the 'Delhi Chalo' march call. Besides a legal guarantee for MSP, the farmers are also demanding implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations, pensions for farmers and farm laborers, farm debt waiver, withdrawal of police cases and "justice" for victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act - 2013, withdrawal from the World Trade Organization, and compensation for families of farmers who died during the previous agitation, among others.
(With agency inputs)