NEW DELHI: A protest march by thousands of farmers from Haridwar to Delhi witnessed sporadic violence around Tuesday noon, injuring over a dozen farmers and seven cops, as the police stopped them at the Ghaziabad border. The scene changed at night as the farmers unsatisfied with the government’s response went to sleep on the road with the police maintaining vigil.
While the Opposition criticised the government for the “brutal police action”, the police claimed they had used minimal force to control the crowd. Called Kisan Kranti Yatra, the march led by Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Naresh Tikait began on September 23 and was slated to culminate at Central Delhi on Tuesday, but the police refused permission to enter the Capital citing law and order issues. “Why have we been stopped at UP-Delhi border? The march was disciplined. If we don’t tell our government about our problems, then whom do we go to?” fumed Tikait.
While a delegation of BKU leaders was holding talks with the government, the crowd got restive and tried to jump over the barricades. Some of them even resorted to stoning. Failing to pacify them, the police deployed its array of crowd management tools like caning, firing teargas shells and water cannons.
The delegation met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at his office to submit their 15-point charter of demands. Later, Union Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Sekhawat and UP’s Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Cane Development and Sugar Mills Suresh Rana met the farmers at the Ghaziabad border. Seven of the demands were reportedly accepted.
“We have reached an agreement on most of the issues like moving court over the NGT order banning tractors older than 10 years plying in the city. Also, a panel is working on linking the MNREGA scheme with agriculture,” Shekhawat assured the farmers, but they remained unconvinced.