Punjab Police gear up for farmers march

Punjab Police are leaving nothing to chance as inputs indicate plans of the protesters to storm barricades of Haryana Police, which may disturb the law and order situation in both the States; heavy earthmoving equipment not to be allowed to reach the Punjab-Haryana boundary

February 20, 2024 10:53 pm | Updated February 21, 2024 07:14 am IST - CHANDIGARH

Protesting farmers on February 20, 2024 bring heavy machinery, including hydraulic cranes and earthmovers, to Shambhu on the Punjab-Haryana border as their ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest march is to resume on February 21, 2024.

Protesting farmers on February 20, 2024 bring heavy machinery, including hydraulic cranes and earthmovers, to Shambhu on the Punjab-Haryana border as their ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest march is to resume on February 21, 2024. | Photo Credit: ANI

A day ahead of their Delhi Chalo march, the protesting farmers on Tuesday were making efforts to mobilise their supporters to swell the scale of their march, even as Punjab Police is leaving nothing to chance as inputs indicate plans of the protesters to storm the barricades of Haryana police and enter Haryana, a move which would disturb the law and order situation in both the States.

On Tuesday, Punjab’s Director General of Police issued instructions to all Senior Superintendents of Police and Commissioners of Police that “no JCBs, poclaines, tippers, hydras and other heavy earthmoving equipment should be allowed to reach the Punjab-Haryana boundary at Khanauri and Shambu where farmer agitation is under way.”

Why are farmers protesting again? | Explained

Earlier, Haryana’s Director General of Police wrote to his Punjab counterpart saying “It is reliably learnt that heavy earthmoving equipment, which are further modified/armour-plated, have been acquired by protesting farmers and have been deployed at the locations where the protesters are camping right now. These machines are meant to be used by the protesters to damage the barricades thereby posing a serious danger to the police and Paramilitary forces deployed on duty and is likely to compromise the security scenario in Haryana.”

The Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) and the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) — the two umbrella bodies of around 200 farmers and farm labourer unions — had given the call for the march to lay siege to the national capital to press for fulfilment of their demands such as a legal guarantee for purchasing their crops at a Minimum Support Price (MSP) and farm loan waiver.

KMM, coordinator Sarwan Singh Pandher told The Hindu that on Wednesday farmers will peacefully start their march towards Delhi. He said if the Centre government has an intent to resolve the issue, it is not a difficult task. “The Centre should hold a special Parliament session and bring a law on the legal guarantee of MSP for crops. All political parties should also clear their stand on the law for MSP,” he said.

So far, four rounds of meetings have been held between the Centre government and farmer leaders but have not yielded any result. On February 18, after the latest meeting in which Union Ministers Arjun Munda, Piyush Goyal, Nityanand Rai and farmer leaders Jagjit Singh Dallewal and Sarwan Singh Pandher participated, the Centre government offered to procure five crops on MSP by entering into a contract for five-years. The protesting farmers, however, rejected the government’s offer.

Meanwhile, while hearing two separate petitions surrounding farmers’ march, the Punjab and Haryana High Court observed that tractor-trolleys cannot be plied on highways as per the Motor Vehicle Act.

Haryana Additional Advocate General Deepak Sabharwal said the court observed that farmers cannot use tractors and trolleys on highways according to the Motor Vehicle Act. Punjab was asked not to allow farmers to gather in large numbers at one place, he added. The matter has been adjourned to next week.

Protesting farmers from Punjab have been camping on two stretches – Shambhu-Ambala and Khanauri-Jind – on the inter-State boundary between Haryana and Punjab, since February 13 as their Delhi Chalo march was stopped from entering Haryana amid elaborate security arrangements.

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