Lessons learned from 2020-2021 protest, police tighten security for farmers' 'Delhi Chalo' march

| | New Delhi
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Lessons learned from 2020-2021 protest, police tighten security for farmers' 'Delhi Chalo' march

Tuesday, 13 February 2024 | PTI | New Delhi

Lessons learned from 2020-2021 protest, police tighten security for farmers' 'Delhi Chalo' march

Security in Delhi has been intensified with multi-layer barricades, concrete blocks, iron nails and walls of containers at border points to stop a 'Delhi Chalo' march of farmers from entering the national capital on Tuesday, after talks between farm leaders and the Centre remained inconclusive.

Police and paramilitary personnel in anti-riot gear have been deployed in massive numbers at the three border points -- Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur. Makeshift jails have been set up at "specific locations" in view of the march, an official said.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha have announced that farmers will head to Delhi on Tuesday to press the Centre to accept their demands, including the enactment of a law to guarantee a Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops.

The farmers are set to begin their march early on Tuesday, a farm leader asserted after a five-hour meeting in Chandigarh with two Union ministers over their demands remained inconclusive.

On Monday, tractor-trolleys set out from different parts of Punjab to join the protest.

"We don't think the government is serious about any of our demands. We don't think they want to fulfil our demands … on Tuesday, we will march towards Delhi at 10 am," farm leader Sarwan Singh Pandher told reporters after the meeting ended late on Monday.

The Delhi Police has imposed Section 144 of the CrPC for a month -- banning the assembly of five or more people, processions or rallies and entry of tractor trolleys ferrying people -- in the city in view of intended widespread tension and "social unrest" due to the farmers' march.

According to orders issued by Delhi Police Commissioner Sanjay Arora, prior permission is required from the authorities concerned for congregations and processions related to weddings, funerals and other religious functions.

During their earlier protest, farmers -- mainly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh -- staged sit-ins at the three border points from August 2020 to December 2021.

In 2020, the police had to rush the logistics to check the entry of the farmers moving in a procession of tractors.

A senior Delhi Police officer said that, learning from past experience, tight security arrangements have been put in place this time. The police have also sealed rural roads bordering Haryana to stop the protesters from moving ahead to enter Delhi.

The officer told PTI that barricades have been installed in such a way that the farmers would not be able to easily remove them. Concrete has been used to seal the cement boulders.

Fear of financial losses and other hardships has returned to haunt locals and shopkeepers in Delhi's border areas ahead of the protest march.

On Monday, the Delhi Police issued a traffic advisory in view of the proposed march, alerting commuters about restrictions on the movement of vehicles at the three border points.

Interstate buses intending to move towards Sonipat, Panipat and Karnal, among others, via National Highway 44 have been directed to take the ISBT to Majnu ka Tilla to Signature Bridge to Khajuri Chowk to Loni Border to KMP via Khekra, according to the advisory.

Heavy goods vehicles moving towards Sonipat, Panipat and Karnal, among others, via National Highway 44 are suggested to take the second exit at the DSIIDC intersection to the Harish Chander Hospital crossing to the Bawana Road crossing to Bawana Chowk to Bawana-Auchandi Road, reaching the Auchandi border to KMP via Saidpur Chowki.

"The heavy goods vehicles intending to go towards Bahadurgarh and Rohtak, etc, are suggested to take Outer Ring Road from Mukarba Chowk to Madhuban Chowk to Bhagwan Mahavir Road to Rithala to Pansali Chowk to Helipad to UER-II to Kanjhawala Road-Karala T-Point-Kanjhawala Chowk to Jaunti Village to Jaunti Border/Nizampur Border and enter in Haryana village Bamnoli and may go further go via Nahra-Nahari road to Bahadurgarh road," the advisory stated.

Cars and light goods vehicles intending to travel to Sonipat, Panipat and Karnal via National Highway 44 are suggested to take the first exit at the Alipur cut to Shani Mandir to Palla Bakhtawarpur Road Y-Point to the Dahisara Village Road two-lane stretch to MCD toll Dahisara to Jatti Kalan Road to Singhu Stadium to PS Kundali, reaching National Highway 44 towards Sonipat in Haryana.

Late on Monday, Union Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda, who, along with Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal, attended the second round of talks with the farm leaders, said a consensus was reached on most issues and a formula was proposed for resolving some others through the formation of a committee.

However, sources said, the farm leaders were adamant on a legal guarantee to MSP for crops, which is one of their key demands.

Besides a legal guarantee for MSP, the farmers are also demanding implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations, pensions for farmers and farm labourers, farm debt waiver, withdrawal of police cases and "justice" for victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act - 2013, withdrawal from the World Trade Organization, and compensation for families of farmers who died during the previous agitation, among others.

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