Chandigarh, Nov 27 (IANS) Braving chilly night under the open skies, thousands of protesting farmers from Punjab and Haryana gathered in Panipat town, resumed their onward journey on tractor-trailers on Friday towards the national capital to lodge their protest over the Centre’s new agriculture laws.
Simultaneously, hundreds of thousands of farmers belonging to the Bharati Kisan Union Ekta-Ugrahan and the Kisan Sangharsh Committee have announced to start their journey from Sangrur district and Jandiala in Amritsar district, respectively, towards Delhi via Haryana.
A day earlier they had positioned themselves in their respective areas.
“This morning (Friday) we managed to break a three-four layer police barricade between Panipat and Sonipat despite the use of water cannons by the Haryana Police,” protester Gurdev Singh said. He said on Thursday they broke four to five barricades after entering Haryana.
Up in arms, farmers on Thursday braved tear gas shells and water cannons to break through police barricades at several places first on the Punjab-Haryana border and then within Haryana.
Marching through Haryana where they were joined by an equal number of local farmers.
Meanwhile, Punjab legislators Parminder Dhindsa, Sukhpal Khera and Raja Warring were taken into preventive custody by the police.
Several protesters and policemen were injured as farmers broke barricades and threw them down from a bridge ahead of the Punjab-Haryana border in Shambhu near Haryana’s Ambala on Thursday.
A huge contingent of police comprising the Rapid Action Force had been deployed at all entry points in Haryana, while residents of several towns located along the Punjab-Haryana border faced a harrowing time due to the heavy deployment of the security forces and snapping of the bus services in the past 24 hours.
Despite the use of water cannons and tear gas, the protesting farmers, comprising men and women — both young and old — and school and college students riding tractor-trailers, cars and motorcycles, managed to enter Haryana from Shambhu.
Angry farmers threw stones at security forces deployed to control the crowd at the Shambhu border.
As per the police estimates, around 3,00,000 farmers from both states are set to reach Delhi.
The farmers affiliated to 33 organisations are part of the United Farmers Front, an all-India body of over 470 farmers’ unions that will participate in the indefinite protest in the national capital.
Appealing to the agitating farmers, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said: “Will leave politics if there’s trouble on MSP (minimum support price).”
He also blamed his Punjab counterpart Amarinder Singh for “inciting the farmers”.
Reacting to his accusations, Amarinder Singh replied on Twitter: “Shocked at your response. It’s the farmers who’ve to be convinced on MSP, not me. You should’ve tried to talk to them before their ‘Dilli Chalo’. And if you think I’m inciting farmers then why are Haryana farmers also marching to Delhi?”
Meanwhile, condemning the use of water cannon and tear gas, former Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal said: “Today is Punjab’s 26/11. We are witnessing the end of the right to democratic protest. The Akali Dal condemns the Haryana government the Centre for choosing to repress the peaceful farmer movement.”
He said the battle for the rights of the Punjab farmers cannot be throttled by using water cannons against them.
Supporting the protest by farmers, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the peaceful demonstration was a constitutional right of the farmers.
The Delhi Police has already asked the farmers not to enter Delhi as they don’t have permission to protest in the city.
Farmers protesting against the farm laws have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporate entities.