NEW DELHI: A day after the police tried to evict farmers from Ghazipur, action on Friday shifted to the Singhu border — the nerve centre of the ongoing protests against the three farm laws — where a group of ‘locals’ clashed with agitators demanding that they vacate it.
The Delhi Police and security personnel resorted to lathicharge and launched tear gas shells to control the situation as both sides resorted to stoning and the mob allegedly snatched batons from security forces to attack the protestors.
The clashes began after more than 100 locals reached the site with placards and the Tricolour around 1.15 pm and shouted slogans like Jai Shri Ram, Goli Maaro Salon Ko, Desh Ke Ghaddaron ko, Khalisthan Khali Karo. They allegedly damaged tents and other paraphernalia of farmers, which led to retaliation.
In the melee, Delhi Police SHO (Alipur) Pradeep Paliwal was injured as a man allegedly attacked him with a sword.
“These people carrying national flags came with stones and lathis and asked us (farmers) to vacate the highway. After heated exchange of words, they attacked our tents, pelted us with stones and hit us with lathis,” said Harinder Singh Lakhowal, general secretary of BKU (Lakhowal).
The police arrested 43 people in connection with the day’s clashes, including farmer Ranjeet Singh (22) for attacking the SHO. A common FIR charging them with attempt to murder, damaging public property, attacking public servant on duty, etc., has been registered.
In contrast, the UP-Delhi border at Ghazipur was peaceful, but the crowd swelled in the morning following an emotional appeal by Rakesh Tikait, national spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisan Union.
Farmers in batches, small business owners, and social and political activists visited the protest site in droves.
The camps of protestors now span a distance of 6 km on the Delhi-Meerut Expressway. Similarly, farmers in large numbers on their tractortrailers from Punjab and Haryana are moving back towards Singhu and Tikri borders.
With the situation still evolving, Union home minister Amit Shah cancelled his proposed weekend trip to West Bengal.
Earlier in the day, a mahapanchayat of farmers in Muzaffarnagar decided to throw weight behind the BKU.
The GIC ground near Mahaveer Chowk, where the meeting took place, was jam packed. The mahapanchayat was called by BKU national president Naresh Tikait after the Ghazipur developments.
Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh has already announced his support to the BKU and his son Jayant Chaudhary met Tikait at Ghazipur.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Police sent notices through WhatsApp messenger app to nine farmer leaders to join the investigation in connection with the violence at Red Fort on January 26.