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Iron bars hooked between barriers, cement poured in to create makeshift wall at Singhu border

Another portion of the highway at the Delhi-Haryana border is practically blocked now as a makeshift cement wall has come up there.

Published: 02nd February 2021 08:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd February 2021 08:36 AM   |  A+A-

Barricading at Ghazipur border to stop farmers from marching towards the national capital during their ongoing agitation against Centres farm reform laws. (Photo | Parveen Negi/EPS)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Workers under the watch of police personnel on Monday hooked iron rods between two rows of cement barriers on a flank of the main highway at the Singhu border to further restrict the movement of protesters agitating against the new farm laws at the site.

Another portion of the highway at the Delhi-Haryana border is practically blocked now as a makeshift cement wall has come up there.

A worker drilling rods in cross-formation between two rows of solid barriers in the afternoon, said, "The other flank was done yesterday. Cement is to be poured in the space between the barriers on this flank to make a makeshift wall".

The move comes days after the violent clashes between some protesters and police on January 26 during the tractor parade by the agitating farmers.

The section of the highway at the Singhu border, which has been the epicentre of the farmers' protests for over 60 days, had also seen a clash recently between farmers and a group of people who claimed to be local residents.

On Monday, the Delhi side of the Singhu border saw a sparse crowd of protesters while the Haryana side was dominated by vociferous speeches denouncing the new farm laws and clarion calls to infuse a new sense of solidarity in the agitation after the Republic Day incident.

Security personnel from the paramilitary forces, RAF and CRPF, were seen in relatively less numbers compared to the past few days but a large number of police personnel manned the stretch spanking a mile from the protest site.

Besides the makeshift wall on the highway, a small trench was also dug up earlier across an inner street a little off the highway and cement barricades put up on both the sides.

The protesting farmers and leaders at a tent, however, showed no signs of being cowed down and asserted that "these barricades put up around us can't cage our spirit".

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All of them alleged that on January 26, "a conspiracy was made to malign this movement" and "defame it", and more such attempts are being made while asserting that the agitation has "come out stronger" now.

Jashandeep Singh, 28, a resident of Mohali, who left his private job, and wife and one-year-old daughter behind in his hometown, to join the movement at Singhu Border, from its early days, said, "We are not retreating an inch".

"If they think, we will get intimidated by these force tactics, then they are mistaken. We are warriors, and our fight is for everyone, and for the future generations of this country. And, they may make cement walls, but no wall is high for our free spirit. This movement is not a flood that can be checked with a dam. It's a tsunami, no walls can stop it," he said.

In the evening, cement was poured into a section of the double-sided solid barricade, even as a group of youth from the families of farmers, stood huddled around right next to the barricade on the other side.

"They are making a wall to stop the farmers, and that too with the taxpayers' money. Is the media listening," screamed one of the youths from the crowd as police officials and personnel watched from the Delhi side of border.

Earlier in the day, Balwinder Singh Sirsa, a farmer leader from Sirsa, Haryana, while addressing farmers, exhorted them to not get demotivated by what happened on January 26 as it was "orchestrated by some people to denigrate the movement".

A woman protester from Haryana, addressing a huge gathering from the dais, said the alleged conspiracy on that day has "failed to weaken this movement" and has rather injected "a new lease of life" in it.

Randhir Singh, 85, a farmer from Haryana, also addressed the gathering saying "I have worked with legends Mahendra Singh Tikait and I know how Jat movement was weakened few years ago".

"What happened on January 26 was a conspiracy. It was not done by farmers but all was part of a smear campaign bring run to defame the movement," he alleged.

ALSO READ | PIL in HC for release of persons 'illegally' detained over Republic Day farmers protest

"We are not terrorists or Khalistani. We are fighting for our rights. Attempts are still being made to defame and weaken us. But Tikait's tears have awakened the farmers of Haryana, UP, and other states," he said.

With parked DTC buses sealing the main entry points, multi-layer barricades and checkpoints, Ghazipur, the new focal point of the farmers' agitation, appeared Monday to be turning into a fortress.

Security arrangements continue to be strengthened at the Delhi-UP border site, which is galvanising farmers from Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand days after an emotional appeal by Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait.

No major road is now open for movement of vehicles and people, which is proving to be a growing problem for many passing the stretch.

A portion of the road is studded with nails.

Concertina wire is a new addition, also mentioned by Tikait while addressing a packed crowd from the main stage.

"They have put these barbed wires, not us. They are not allowing people to come to Delhi. We are not the one blocking the roads. If we block roads, they ask us to vacate, but no action is taken when the same is done by these security forces," he said.

Drones have also been deployed to monitor the protesters.

Police are beefing up security at the other protest sites on Delhi's borders as well, after the Republic Day clashes between police and protesters taking part in a tractor parade.

On Wednesday night, after the Republic Day violence, the atmosphere was tense at Ghazipur.

The Ghaziabad administration had issued an "ultimatum" to the protesters to vacate a stretch of the Delhi-Meerut expressway they have been occupying for two months, protesting against the new farm laws enacted at the Centre.

As security at the Ghazipur site increased, fears grew that the protesters would be forcibly evicted.

But an emotional outburst by Rakesh Tikait led to more farmers converging there.

Commuters, facing problems since December on the stretch occupied by the protesters, say the situation has worsened after the new restrictions.

Like the security personnel, farmers too have set up checkpoints.

"We don't allow the locals to enter without any rhyme or reason. Even if you are the media, you have to show your id-card for entry. The drill is applied round the clock," said a volunteer, standing next to a makeshift checkpoint.

An elderly farmer said the protesters will not be deterred by the new measures.

"These barricades, nails and barbed wires are put to deter the farmers but we are not going to quit the movement because of the show of force. We appeal to the prime minister with folded hands to repeal the new laws so that we can go back to our villages and take care of our families, farms and cattle," he said.

Indirapuram Circle Officer Anshu Jain told PTI Monday night that the law and order situation was normal at the Delhi-UP border.

"Some barricades were set up on nearby routes leading to Anand Vihar but those were removed in the afternoon," she said.

At another location -- Singhu on the Delhi-Haryana border -- workers under the watch of police personnel were seen Monday hooking iron rods between two rows of cement barriers on a flank of the main highway.

"The other flank was done yesterday. Cement is to be poured in the space between the barriers on this flank to make a makeshift wall," a worker said.

Besides the makeshift wall on the highway, a small trench was dug up earlier across an inner street a little off the highway and cement barricades put up on both the sides.

ALSO READ | Farmers stir: Fourth mahapanchayat in UP calls on protestors to relocate to Ghazipur border

The section of the highway at the Singhu border also saw a clash recently between farmers and a group of people who claimed to be local residents.

On Monday, the Delhi side of the Singhu border saw a sparse crowd of protesters while the Haryana side was dominated by people making vociferous speeches, denouncing the new farm laws.

Farmer leaders at Singhu asserted that the barricades won't cage their spirit.

Balwinder Singh Sirsa, a farmer leader from Sirsa in Haryana, urged protesters not get demotivated by what happened on January 26, claiming it was "orchestrated" by some people to denigrate the protest.

A woman protester from Haryana, addressing a large gathering from the dais, said the alleged conspiracy on that day failed to weaken the movement and has rather injected "a new lease of life" in it.

Farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have been camping at Delhi's borders for weeks, seeking a repeal of the three central laws.

They claim that the new laws will weaken the minimum support price (MSP) system.

But the Centre says the laws will only give farmers more options to sell their produce.



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