Farmers protest: Iron nails, cement barricade on road; internet suspended in 7 districts
"The dictator got scared again," the Congress said in its reaction to the Haryana government clampdown
In an effort to thwart the farmers' march to Delhi on 13 February, the Haryana government, led by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar of the BJP, has implemented extensive measures, including placing cement barricades on the roads, drilling iron nails, suspending internet and bulk SMS services.
Heavy police, accompanied by riot control force were deployed at the Haryana-Punjab border.
With echoes of the 2020 Farmers' Protest against the implementation of minimum support price (MSP), farmers are planning to converge on Delhi to pressure the central government to address their diverse demands.
Farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher revealed that the Centre has extended an invitation for a meeting to discuss their demands on 12 February.
Three Union ministers, Piyush Goyal, Arjun Munda, and Nityanand Rai, are scheduled to arrive in Chandigarh on 12 February to engage in discussions with a deputation from the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha.
Reports indicate that elaborate arrangements, including route diversions and a seven-tier security cordon, have been put in place. The Haryana-Punjab borders are sealed with substantial cement barricades and barbed wires. Section 144 has been imposed in many districts of Haryana, and CRPF and other security agencies have been deployed alongside the police force.
"Police are using this language while going from village to village in Haryana, threatening the farmers not to join the movement," claimed journlaist Mandeep Punia who lives in Haryana.
To further control the situation, mobile internet services will remain suspended in seven districts of Ambala, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind, Hisar, Fatehabad, and Sirsa from 6 am on 11 February until 11.59 pm on 13 February.
The Haryana-Punjab border at Shambhu has been closed for vehicular movement towards Ambala and Delhi, causing a significant traffic jam. The Ghaggar river bed has also been dug up to hinder farmers from reaching the highway with their tractors.
Despite these measures, farmers are gearing up their tractor trolleys for the march. In Rajpura, farmers staged a tractor march as part of their preparations to head towards Delhi.
Over 200 farmer unions are expected to initiate the march on 13 February, advocating for various demands, including a law to guarantee a minimum support price (MSP) for crops.
While the Central ministers assured a second-round meeting soon, the farmers maintain their 'Delhi Chalo' march. A meeting between farm union leaders and ministers is scheduled for 12 March in Chandigarh, a day before the proposed march.
The farmers' demands encompass the 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.
Reacting to the development, Congress attacked PM Modi and said : "The dictator got scared again".
"Farmers upset with the injustice of Modi government are coming to Delhi. As soon as the Modi government got wind of this, nails were placed on the path of the farmers. The path was blocked with stones. BJP government has shut down the internet in many districts of Haryana. Our food providers are being treated like criminals. The government should listen to the farmers and solve their problems. But intoxicated with ego, PM Modi and his government have considered farmers as their enemies."