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Farmers to resume Delhi march, police ordered to seize bulldozers

Last updated on: February 20, 2024 23:29 IST

The Haryana police on Tuesday asked its Punjab counterparts to seize bulldozers which they say protesting farmers from Punjab have brought with them as they plan to resume their 'Delhi Chalo' from the interstate border.

IMAGE: Farmers gather at the Punjab-Haryana Shambhu Border as the farmers' Delhi Chalo protest march is to resume from February 21, in Patiala on Tuesday. Photograph: ANI Photo

The farmers were set to begin their march again on Wednesday from two points on the Punjab-Haryana border after the failure of four rounds of talks with the Centre over a legal guarantee on minimum support price for crops.

Though the farmers are still over 200 km from the national capital, Delhi Police on Tuesday conducted drills to ensure that its heavily barricaded entry points are not breached.


Thousands of farmers, who began the march to Delhi on February 13, were stopped at the Haryana border itself, where they clashed with security personnel. The farmers have been camping at the Shambhu and Khanauri points on Punjab's border with Haryana since then.

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday orally asked the Punjab government not to allow the farmers to gather in large numbers.

The court observed that tractor-trolleys cannot be run on highways according to the Motor Vehicles Act and said the farmers can go to Delhi by bus or using public transport.

Haryana director general of police Shatrujeet Kapoor, in an urgent communication to his Punjab counterpart Gaurav Yadav, asked Punjab Police to seize all bulldozers and earthmoving equipment acquired by farmers camping at the two border points to damage barricades.

He said such equipment may pose a threat to security forces and the owners of such equipment should be strictly warned against providing them to the protesting farmers as it would "amount to a criminal act".

"It is reliably learnt that heavy earthmoving equipment including proclain (digger), JCB etc., that have been further modified/armour-plated have been acquired by protesting farmers and have been deployed at the border locations where the protesters are camping right now.

"These machines are meant to be used by the protesters to damage the barricades thereby posing serious danger to the police and paramilitary forces deployed on duty and is likely to compromise the security scenario in Haryana," Kapoor said in his communication.

The last round of talks between farmers and the government ended past midnight on Sunday when a panel of ministers proposed buying five crops -- moong dal, urad dal, tur dal, maize and cotton -- from farmers at minimum support price for five years through central agencies.

The protest leaders have formally rejected the offer with Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal saying on Tuesday that it was not in the farmers' interest.

On the eve of resumption of the 'Delhi Chalo' march, Kisan Mazdoor Morcha leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said the Centre should convene a day-long Parliament session to bring a legislation on the MSP for crops.

The Kisan Mazdoor Morcha is spearheading the 'Delhi Chalo' agitation along with the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political).

Talking to reporters at the Shambhu border point, Pandher said, "We demand that a law to guarantee the MSP be brought. If the prime minister has the willpower, a day-long session of Parliament can be convened. No opposition party will oppose it."

Pandher said farmers have three big demands -- a legal guarantee on the MSP for all crops, the implementation of the "C2 plus 50 per cent" formula as recommended by the Swaminathan Commission and a farm loan waiver.

According to government reports, he said, farmers have a total debt of Rs 18.5 lakh crore.

He requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make an announcement that the farm loans would be waived while a mechanism for the same could be worked out later.

Replying to a question on the 'Delhi Chalo' march, Pandher said, "Our announcement (of going to Delhi on Wednesday) stands."

Delhi Police was also busy preparing to stop the protesters from entering the national capital and conducted mock drills.

Deputy commissioner of police (Outer) Jimmy Chiram said there is sufficient deployment of the force, besides paramilitary personnel, at the Delhi-Haryana border.

Another officer said Delhi Police is prepared to stop the farmers at the city borders. Security personnel have been directed to not allow even a single protester or vehicle to enter the capital, he said, adding that mock security drills were conducted during the day.

Officials said areas around the national capital's three border points might witness traffic congestion on Wednesday due to road closures.

Tikri and Singhu -- two points on the Delhi-Haryana border -- are sealed with heavy deployment of police personnel and multiple layers of concrete barricades and iron nails.

If required, the Ghazipur border might also be shut on Wednesday, an official said.

The Delhi police have already stocked up 30,000 tear gas shells.

Meanwhile, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, which spearheaded the 2020-21 farmers' stir, welcomed the decision of the farmer leaders to reject the Centre's MSP proposal, saying it's a step in the right direction that will ensure greater unity among farmers across the country.

It also called on farmer groups to join mass protests in constituencies of Bharatiya Janata Party-National Democratic Alliance MPs on Wednesday.

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