Chandigarh, Tens of thousands of farmers from Punjab and Haryana on Wednesday started their movement towards the national capital for their ‘Delhi Chalo’ agitation against the three Central farm laws. Enroute, they had major scuffles with the Haryana Police which failed to stop them from proceeding further despite heavy deployment of men and use of water cannons.
However, there was no report of any violence or the use of teargas shells or batons.
As a preventive step, the BJP-ruled Haryana sealed all its major entry points along the Punjab border and also imposed Section 144 of the CrPC to prevent the assembly of protesters.
The major scuffle between the farmers and the police broke out at the Shambhu border near Ambala city when the farmers broke the blockades and managed to proceed to Delhi for staging a demonstration.
Despite the use of water cannons, the protesting farmers, comprising men and women — both young and old — and school and college students riding tractor-trailers, cars and motorcycles, managed to enter Haryana from Punjab.
They were later joined by thousands of their counterparts from Haryana, led by Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) state chief Gurnam Singh Charuni.
As they reached Kurukshetra district, the local farmers joined them.
“The police must release our activists and vehicles. We will march towards Delhi, breaking the barricades,” Charuni said.
The farmers were marching towards Sonepat, where they will stay overnight and leave for Delhi on Thursday morning.
The police had taken nearly 100 farmer leaders from Haryana into “preventive custody”.
As per the police estimates, around 3,00,000 farmers from both the states are set to reach Delhi as part of their ‘Delhi Chalo’ agitation.
BKU Punjab President Balbir Singh Rajewal said Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has got the interstate borders sealed for Punjab farmers to prove that “Punjab is not part of India”.
The farmers affiliated to 33 organisations are part of the United Farmers Front, an all-India body of over 470 farmers’ unions that will participate in the indefinite protest in the national capital from November 26.
The protesting farmers have threatened to block all the roads leading to Delhi if they are denied the permission to travel towards the national capital.
Barred from entering Haryana, the leaders of farmers’ organisations announced that they will sit on ‘dharna’ at the Dabwali barrier between Bathinda and Sirsa districts for a week.
BKU (Ugrahan) President Joginder Ugrahan said, “If we are not allowed to cross Haryana and head towards Delhi on Thursday, our protest destination will be the border points for a week.”
Likewise, 1,000 farmers tried to enter Haryana through Khanauri but the Haryana Police stopped them. The tractor-trolleys caused long jams on the Delhi-Sangrur highway.
Earlier, the Delhi Police had asked the farmers not to enter Delhi as they don’t have permission to protest in the city.
The Haryana Police too have issued a travel advisory, asking commuters to avoid certain national highways along the state borders with Punjab and Delhi for three days, starting Wednesday, in the wake of the protests.
Road blockades have been put up at several places along the state borders as per Chief Minister Khattar’s directive to ensure “law and order”, the police said.
A state police spokesperson told that elaborate arrangements have been made by the civil and police administration.
The primary objective of these arrangements is to maintain law and order and prevent any kind of violence, facilitate the functioning of traffic and public transport systems and to ensure public peace and order.
The spokesperson said a large number of protesters are likely to enter Haryana from Punjab through various border entry points for their onward journey towards Delhi.
The main focus points of the protesters originating from within Haryana will be the four major national highways leading towards Delhi, i.e., Ambala to Delhi, Hisar to Delhi, Rewari to Delhi and Palwal to Delhi.
A specific call has been given by the protesting organisations for congregation at Shambhu border near Ambala city, Mundhal Chowk in Bhiwani district, Anaj Mandi in Gharaunda town in Karnal district, Tikri border in Bahadurgarh town in Jhajjar district, and the Rajiv Gandhi Education City in Rai in Sonipat district.
Seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention, Shriomani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Badal has said that the government’s confrontation with the farmers is pushing Punjab and the country towards chaos.
Farmers protesting against the farm laws have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the ‘mercy’ of big corporate entities.