Rigid barricades sealing the freeways were tossed aside, tear-gas shells hurled back, and water cannons turned off as arduous attempts by the Haryana Police to throw obstacles in the way of the protesting farmers were brought to a naught on Thursday.
All roads led to Delhi as the unending streams of protesting farmers gushed into Haryana from multiple sides after breaking the barriers closing the Haryana borders.
Punjab’s determined and undeterred farmers braved tear gas and water cannons to break through Haryana police’s multi-layered barricades — including huge boulders, mounds of loose earth, barbed-wire fencing, big vehicles, among other things — at several entry points to proceed on their Delhi Chalo march to protest the Centre’s farm laws.
Braving the tear gas and water cannons in the cold weather conditions, the farmers pushed aside heavy boulders or stones with the help of their tractors or police’s crane stationed there. They also cleared the way by removing mountains of loose earth, strewn by the police on roads, to stop their tractors or trolleys from moving forward.
Things turned bad to worse at Shambhu barrier, bordering the districts of Ambala (in Haryana) and Patiala (in Punjab), when the Haryana Police used water cannons to disperse the farmers, who had gathered in large numbers in tractor-trolleys and were making effort to remove the concrete barricades. Even as the farmers, most of them youngsters, bravely faced the gusts of water, the police resorted to attack them with tear gas. However, resolute to reach the national capital to register their protest, the farmers managed to cross over and continue their march to New Delhi.
The leaders of All India Kisan Sabha, who have been entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring a smooth movement of farmers from the border, claimed that there were almost 50,000 farmers at the spot at that time.
Notably, the Haryana Police had sealed all entry points from Punjab to stop the entry of farmers, who have announced the protest march against the Centre on November 26 and 27.
Besides the Shambhu border, the farmers managed to breach the barriers at Ajimgarh village on the Kaithal border, at Jind and Karnal to enter Haryana. Farmers from
Punjab also entered Haryana from Sadopur-Lalru border from Ambala-Chandigarh expressway. A large number of farmers from Boha also entered Haryana by breaking the police barricades at Bahmanwala border, while farmers entered Hansipur in Haryana by breaking police barricade at Sardulgarh in Mansa district.
At Tukar border of Pehowa in Kurukshetra, Punjab farmers broke open the barricades, throwing some into the Markanda river, to enter Haryana.
BKU Ekta Ughran, Punjab’s largest farmer organization, decided to put up their tents right there and started a protest at Dabwali inter-state border, near Doomwali barrier, in Bathinda. Thousands of farmers have reached Dabwali with large numbers of farmers on their way to reach.
The farmer union has decided to move to Delhi on Friday at 11.30 am from Dabwali and Khanauri.
At the same time, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha and All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) maintained that “more than 50,000 farmers will be standing at the Delhi border by today (Thursday) evening”.
“The numbers are expected to swell through the night as thousands of tractors and trolleys are carrying farmers, women and children from interior areas of Punjab,” a statement by farmers’ coordination body said.
AS YOUNGSTERS TAKE THE CHARGE, WOMEN, KIDS JOIN TOO
The farmers’ ‘generation next’ has emerged as champion in the ongoing ‘Delhi Chalo’ march. Taking the charge while ensuring safety of their elders, the youngsters were seen doing heroic deeds — jumping from one vehicle to another, hurling back tear gas shells on police, “capturing” police vehicles, and bearing the brunt of the police action. All the time when the police attacked the farmers with water cannons and tear gas, the “young farmers” were the one facing the force, while the elderly farmers were asked to stay put inside the ‘comfy’ tractor-trolleys.
That was not all! Even the joining them are not only the womenfolk, but also the children, who have joined their farming families, leaving their houses and enthusiastically participating in the agitation. Young, school going boys and girls were seen carrying flags, chanting slogans at the top of their voice, with many even spotting the farmers’ union badges.
BKU Ekta Ugrahan women wing president Harjinder Kaur Bindu claimed that around 25,000 women are participating in the protest.
WARRING, OTHER MLAs JOINS PROTEST
Coming forward in support of farmers, Congress’ firebrand MLA Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, among some others, joined the farmers’ ‘Delhi Chalo’ call.
Himself taking the driver’s seat, Gidderbaha MLA Warring, along with his wife Amrita and his supporters, started moving towards Delhi from Mansa district on a tractor — which has emerged as a symbol of farmers’ protest against central farm laws.
It has been learnt that several other Punjab Congress MLAs have also left for Delhi to participate in the protest. However, the party sources maintained that there was officially no instructions to the party leaders of MLAs.
Notably, Congress MLAs, led by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, had organized a dharna at Jantar Mantar Delhi earlier this month.
SEVERAL POLITICAL LEADERS DETAINED
Police have detained several political leaders who were leading the protests. Leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic), including former Minister and MLA Parminder Singh Dhindsa along with Ranjit Singh Talwandi, Tejinder Pal Singh Sandhu, Manpreet Singh Talwandi, among others were arrested by the police while they were protesting at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.
Besides, Bholath MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira, AAP’s rebel MLAs — Jagdev Kamalu, Pirmal Singh Khalsa — along with about 50 supporters have been arrested by the Delhi Police near Jantar-Mantar.
“We had assembled at Bangla Sahib Gurudwara in the morning as per call of farmer organizations,” said Khaira adding that they were detained at Parliament Street Police Station.