Punjab’s resolute farmers set out to test Haryana’s thorny defences

Thousands of farmers and farm labourers from different parts of Punjab on their tractor-trolleys have started their journey to Delhi so they can join the protest.

Published - February 12, 2024 11:42 pm IST - CHANDIGARH

A convoy of farmers that started from Beas in Amritsar on February 12, 2024.

A convoy of farmers that started from Beas in Amritsar on February 12, 2024. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

With farmers determined to lay siege to Delhi on February 13, in an attempt to force the government to fulfill their demands, the Haryana government has established multiple layers of barricades to stop farmers’ from neighbouring Punjab passing through the State on their way to Delhi in ‘tractor-trolley’ convoys.

Thousands of farmers and farm labourers from different parts of Punjab on their tractor-trolleys have started their journey to Delhi so they can join the protest. Many started from Beas in Amritsar and were to assemble in Fatehgarh Sahib district, before travelling to Delhi via Haryana.

War footing

The Haryana government has imposed traffic restrictions and security has been intensified, especially at entry points from Punjab, which include Ambala-Shambhu border, Khanauri-Jind and Dabwali. Nails, barbed wire, concrete blocks, boulders and anti-riot vehicles are at hand along with water cannons. Mobile internet services have already been suspended in Ambala, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind, Hisar, Fatehabad and Sirsa.

Farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher told The Hindu that thousands of farmers and farm labourers from Punjab on their tractor-trolleys have started from different parts of Punjab to join the proposed march in Delhi. “Majority of us will gather at Fatehgarh Sahib and tomorrow will march further towards Haryana and then towards Delhi. The farmers are marching on tractor-trolleys, two-wheelers, cars, vans etc,” he said.

Haryana Police asserted they have implemented extensive measures to maintain law and order in the State and ensure the safety of the general public. “A total of 114 companies have been deployed across various districts. Of these 64 are paramilitary forces and 50 Haryana Police. These companies are equipped with anti-riot gear and stationed in border and sensitive districts. Additionally, surveillance technologies such as drones and CCTV cameras are being utilised to monitor miscreants and mischievous elements,” the police said in a statement. Restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC have also been imposed in as many as 15 districts, prohibiting the assembly of five or more people.

Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij said “dialogue can resolve any issue, and this issue will also be resolved. We will do whatever is necessary to ensure the safety of our state’s people and to maintain peace.”

MSP guarantee

The Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha initiated the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march by more than 200 farmers’ unions on tractor-trolleys. Farmers have been demanding the Central government enact a Minimum Support Price (MSP) guarantee law for purchase of all crops based on the Swaminathan Commission report. They also want a crop insurance scheme in line with the report. Other demands include a complete loan waiver for farmers and farm labour, a monthly pension of ₹10,000 for 58-year-old farmers-farm labourers, withdrawal of the Electricity Bill, 2020, withdrawal of amendments made in 2015 to the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, cancelation of cases against farmers during the protest (2020) on the Delhi border and compensation for families of farmers who died during the protest.

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