Haryana Police's tear gas, barricades fail to prevent farmers from marching to Delhi to take part in protest against Centre’s anti-farmer laws

Published : November 27, 2020 00:30 IST

Haryana Police use water cannon to disperse farmers marching towards New Delhi, near Hisar, on November 26. Photo: AP

Tens of thousands of farmers from Punjab and Haryana are marching towards New Delhi as part of the two-day “Dilli Chalo” protest against three new farm laws which farmers' unions allege are anti-farmer and pro-corporate houses. They are likely to be joined by their counterparts from western Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand as the farmers endeavour to put up a united front against the Centre's decision to amend the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Fair Services Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

While the leading political parties in Punjab, the ruling Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party and the Shiromani Akali Dal, lent their support to the cause of the farmers, the farmers have had to brave tear gas and water cannons in Haryana in their bid to reach Delhi where farmers from five States, including Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, are congregating. They allege that the Haryana police created obstructions at every level, ranging from parking a heavy truck on the bridge in order to make it impossible to cover the distance on a tractor, to dumping huge pieces of boulders and rocks in the middle of the road. The farmers, though, were not dissuaded.

Earlier, the BJP-led Haryana government had closed its borders with Punjab, making it practically impossible for the agitating farmers to enter the State. When the farmers insisted on going ahead with their proposed Dilli Chalo programme, the police came down heavily, using tear gas, water cannons and barricades to push them back. After a two-hour struggle, the farmers broke through, throwing the barricades into the river, and using lathis and swords to march ahead. Even as Minister for Agriculture Narendra Singh requested the farmers to suspend their agitation and offered to hold talks, the farmers refused to call off their protest which they had planned for over three weeks.

A kisan leader from Moga, Kartar Singh, recalled, "Even Amarinder Singh and Rahul Gandhi had to face problems in Haryana when they organised a tractor rally. We were mentally prepared for it. It is the BJP government at the Centre which brought the new laws. It is a BJP government in Haryana."

Later, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda) leader Jagmohan Singh told Frontline, "We have entered Jind. We are going ahead on tractors, in buses. As of now, we are not sure what lies ahead. One hears the Delhi-Haryana border is also likely to be sealed. We do not foresee any problem with the Kejriwal government in Delhi but not sure if the Haryana government will allow us to enter Delhi. Is this the way to treat farmers on Constitution Day? All they want is their right to livelihood to be safeguarded."

Meanwhile, reports have come in that nearly 2,000 farmers from Uttar Pradesh have been detained at the Delhi-UP border, and that some kisan leaders have been taken into custody in New Delhi. With the farmers hoping for support from the popular leader Medha Patkar, the battle against new laws shows no signs of ending anytime soon.