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Farmers damage bridge, throw barricades near Haryana-Punjab border, tear gas fired

New Delhi, Feb 13, 2024: Haryana Police detained protesting farmers at Shambhu along the border with Punjab on Tuesday after they pelted stones, damaged a bridge and forcibly tried to remove barricades that were erected to halt their march to Delhi.



The Punjab Police allowed protesting farmers to cross the Rajpura bypass as they headed towards Haryana’s Ambala en route to Delhi to press for their demands. However, tensions escalated at the Punjab-Haryana Shambhu border as protesting farmers attempted to break cement barricades with their tractors.

As farmers attempted to breach the tight security, a few were seen vandalising the bridge and throwing a police barricade off the structure.

Police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters. According to visuals shared by news agency ANI, some tear gas shells were deployed using drones. They also resorted to using water cannons on the rampaging farmers.

Over 200 farmer unions decided to press ahead with the ’Delhi Chalo’ protest march after a crucial meeting between farmer leaders and Union ministers ended without a resolution late Monday night.

Despite hours of dialogue, the two sides failed to reach an agreement on key demands. The government, however, said a consensus was reached on most issues and a formula was proposed for resolving some others through the formation of a committee.

In anticipation of the farmers’ agitation, the Delhi Police have ramped up security measures, imposing restrictions on gatherings and fortifying borders to maintain order.

Border crossings linking Delhi to its surrounding satellite towns are heavily congested due to numerous diversions ahead of the large-scale farmers’ march towards the national capital. Long lines of vehicles were observed at the Ghazipur and Chilla borders, linking Delhi with Ghaziabad and Noida in Uttar Pradesh.

Speaking about the farmers’ protest, Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda said, "The government is getting information that many people could try to pollute the atmosphere, I urge the farmers to stay careful of such elements."

Here are the top developments in the farmers’ protest:

1. Farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said around 10,000 farmers were at Shambhu on the Punjab-Haryana border. He had earlier announced the decision to march after a five-hour meeting with Union ministers remained inconclusive.

2. Union Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda, who participated in the talks alongside Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal, conveyed optimism about the talks. Munda indicated that a consensus had been achieved on most issues, with proposals put forth for the resolution of remaining concerns through the formation of a committee. "We are still hopeful that farmer bodies will hold talks," he said.

3. The Centre agreed to withdraw cases against farmers from the 2020-21 agitation but failed to convince the leaders who demand a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP), news agency PTI reported citing sources. There was an understanding to compensate families of deceased farmers from the previous protests, yet this did not suffice to halt the planned march.

4. Security measures have been ramped up across Delhi and the city’s borders have turned into veritable fortresses. Delhi Police Commissioner Sanjay Arora issued an order banning large gatherings until March 12, prohibiting rallies, tractor entry, and carrying of weapons or inflammable items.

5. There is heavy police presence at the Singhu, Tikri, and Ghazipur borders, where significant portions of roads have been obstructed with concrete blocks and fortified with barbed wire.

Farmers remain undeterred by the heavy barricading at Delhi’s borders, claiming they will "break the barricades in half an hour".

6. Traffic diversions have been put in place for commercial vehicles around Delhi borders in the wake of the proposed protest by farmer groups. Curbs for private vehicles will kick in from today. Commuters have been advised by cops to plan their journey accordingly and to avoid the borders. Delhi Traffic Police also issued an advisory on Sunday suggesting alternate ways.

7. In addition to measures at the Delhi borders, authorities in Haryana have reinforced security along the state’s borders with Punjab. Areas including Ambala, Jind, Fatehabad, Kurukshetra, and Sirsa have witnessed the installation of concrete blocks, iron nails, and barbed wire to impede the passage of protesters attempting to enter the state.

8. In Haryana, 64 companies of paramilitary personnel and 50 from the Haryana Police have been deployed across various districts. These personnel are equipped with anti-riot gear and stationed in the border and the sensitive districts. Additionally, drones and CCTV cameras are being used.

9. The ’Delhi Chalo’ march began today at 10 am, with farmers from Punjab’s Sangrur leading the way in 2,500 tractor trolleys through Haryana to Delhi.

10. Aimed at pressing the Centre to address various demands, including the enactment of a law guaranteeing MSP for crops, the ’Delhi Chalo’ march is expected to witness participation from over 200 farmers’ unions across the country.

Courtesy: India Today

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