New Delhi: Protests by thousands of farmers, marching towards the national capital as part of the ‘Kisan Kranti Padyatra’, turned violent on Tuesday after they were stopped at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border with police using water cannons to stop them. Also Read - BJP-JD(U) Jodi Like Tendulkar-Sehwag: Rajnath Singh in All Praises For Nitish Kumar Govt in Bihar
The farmers, riding tractors and trolleys, broke barricades of the UP Police and then started proceeding towards the barricades put up by the Delhi Police, PTI quoted a senior police officer as saying. Also Read - Amid India-China Border Talks, Rajnath Singh Inaugurates 44 Key Bridges in Ladakh, 6 Other States
Police had to use water cannons to disperse the protesters, who also indulged in sloganeering. Tear gas was also used to disperse the crowd. Also Read - First Pakistan, Now China...Border Disputes Being Created as Part of A Mission: Rajnath Singh
In wake of the situation, Section 144 has been imposed in some parts of the national capital. It should be noted that in east Delhi, the Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code will be in force till October 8 while in the northeast, it will be in force till October 4.
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In east Delhi, the prohibitory orders issued by Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) Pankaj Singh under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, will be in force until October 8.
It covers Preet Vihar, Jagatpuri, Shakarpur, Madhu Vihar, Ghazipur, Mayur Vihar, Mandawli, Pandav Nagar, Kalyanpuri and New Ashok Nagar police station limits.
In northeast Delhi, the prohibitory orders were issued by Deputy Commissioner of Police (Northeast) Atul Kumar Thakur and will be in force till October 4.
Amid the protests turning violent, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh chaired a crucial meeting of top officials to take stock of the situation and said that the Centre is ready to consider the demands of the farmers.
Responding to the farmers’ protest, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “Farmers should be allowed to enter Delhi. Why are they not being allowed to enter Delhi? This is wrong. We are with the farmers.”
CPI(M) chief Sitaram Yechury also criticised the Modi government, alleging that the Centre is forcing farmers to be under debt burden and commit suicide. “It reconfirms the fact that Modi government is anti-farmers. Instead of providing relief to farmers they are exasperating the crisis further forcing farmers to be under debt burden and distress suicides. We haven’t seen such an agrarian distress in India since independence,” he said.
Supporting the protests by farmers, former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav said that the government has not fulfilled its promises which has led to the the situation. “This government has not fulfilled the promises it made to farmers, so it is all but natural that farmers would protest. It is unfortunate and we fully support the farmers,” he said.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also slammed the police action on the protesting farmers. “On the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the Modi government has shown that it is no different from the pre-Independence British government in India. The British government then used to exploit the farmers and today, the Modi government is firing tear gas shells at farmers,” he said.
Farmers, under the umbrella of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), are protesting over various demands ranging from farm loan waiver to cut in fuel prices.
National Highways leading to the national capital were swamped with farmers who came in from places as far as Gonda, Basti and Gorakhpur in eastern Uttar Pradesh as well as the sugarcane belt of western Uttar Pradesh.
Police picketed the border with Uttar Pradesh, imposing prohibitory orders banning assembly of five or more people and holding of any public meeting, usage of any amplifier, loudspeaker, and similar instruments.
The Kisan Kranti Yatra, which began from Tikait Ghat in Haridwar on September 23, was joined by farmers from various parts of Uttar Pradesh.
They came on foot, in buses and tractor trolleys.
They carried banners of Bhartiya Kisan Union, which gave the call for the march to press for a series of demands.
“We are not seeking any alms from the government. We want our right,” said Harmik Singh, a farmer who came from Meerut.
Farmers are in distress because of high electricity prices and fuel rates shooting through the roof, he said. “Aap ko 500 rupiya ka gas theek lagta hai? (Does LPG price of Rs 500 sound right to you,” he asked.
Another farmer claimed over 3 lakh peasants are marching towards Rajghat.
Their list of demands include unconditional loan waiver for farmers, clearing of dues by sugar mills, higher prices for crops, free electricity for farms and a cut in diesel prices.