Punjab farmers set off for Delhi, Haryana cops hurl tear gas; few detained at Shambu border

Over 200 farm unions part of 'Chalo Delhi' march; tractor-trolleys laden with dry rations, water-proof sheets, and mattresses; concrete blocks, iron nails, and barbed wire placed at borders.
Teargas dropped on farmers at Shambhu border (Punjab-Haryana) during their 'Delhi Chalo' march, in Ambala, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024.
Teargas dropped on farmers at Shambhu border (Punjab-Haryana) during their 'Delhi Chalo' march, in Ambala, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024. PTI

Key developments from 'Delhi Chalo' today:

  • Farmers began their march to Delhi from Punjab's Fatehgarh Sahib

  • March via Ambala-Shambhu, Khanauri-Jind, Dabwali borders

  • Haryana Police hurled tear gas shells at farmers who tried to break barricades at the Ambala-Shambu border

  • Few farmers were detained near Shambhu border

  • Farm leader Sarwan Singh Pandher accuses BJP-led Haryana government of harassing farmers

The Haryana Police hurled tear gas shells at farmers who tried to break barricades set up at the state's border with Punjab at Shambhu near Ambala as farmers demanding a law on Minimum Support Price (MSP) marched towards Delhi.

A few farmers were detained as well near the Shambhu border, official sources said.

The Haryana Police hurled tear gas shells when a group of youth, who were part of the farmers' 'Chalo Delhi' protest march, tried to break barricades set up at the Shambhu border in Ambala, officials said.

When a few youth broke an iron barricade and tried to throw it off the Ghaggar river bridge, the police lobbed several rounds of tear gas shells.

They also used a drone later on to drop a tear gas shell.

The farmers decided to begin their march after a meeting with two Union ministers over their demands, including a legal guarantee to MSP for crops, on Monday evening, which remained inconclusive.

Many farmers, along with their tractor trolleys, began the march around 10 am from Fatehgarh Sahib and are moving towards Delhi via the Shambhu border.

PTI

Once in Delhi, the protesting farmers will press the Centre to accept their demands, including the enactment of a law to guarantee a Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops. Another group of farmers is moving towards the national capital from Mehal Kalan in Sangrur through the Khanauri border.

The farmers have announced that more than 200 unions will be part of 'Delhi Chalo'. Their tractor-trolleys are laden with dry rations, water-proof sheets, and mattresses.

The march to Delhi is happening via the Ambala-Shambhu, Khanauri-Jind, and Dabwali borders.

Authorities in Haryana have fortified the state's borders with Punjab at many places in Ambala, Jind, Fatehabad, Kurukshetra, and Sirsa using concrete blocks, iron nails, and barbed wire to scuttle the march.

'Haryana govt harassing farmers'

Meanwhile, farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher on Tuesday decried the heavy barricading along the borders of Punjab and Haryana, saying the state borders have been turned into "international borders."

He also accused the Manohar Lal Khattar government of harassing farmers in Haryana.

Pandher said while the media has blamed the farmers for blocking roads, the government itself has blocked roads. "We grow foodgrains and we feed the country and they have grown a crop of nails" for us," Pandher added.

Section 144 around Delhi and Haryana

The Haryana government has also imposed restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC in as many as 15 districts, prohibiting the assembly of five or more people and banning any kind of demonstration or march with tractor trolleys.

In Delhi, Police Commissioner Sanjay Arora has issued strict orders valid for the next 30 days to maintain law and order in the city.

On Monday, tractor trolleys had set out from different parts of Punjab to join the protest march. Many farmers on their tractor trolleys had assembled at Mehlan Kalan Chowk in Sangrur district.

On the tractor trolleys sporting the flags of the farm unions, farmers have packed essential items, including dry ration, mattresses, and utensils, among others.

An excavator was also among the convoy of tractor trolleys, with a farmer in Amritsar saying it would be used to break barricades.

Farmers arrive at the Shambhu border (Punjab-Haryana) for their 'Delhi Chalo' march, in Patiala district, Tuesday, February 13, 2024.
Farmers arrive at the Shambhu border (Punjab-Haryana) for their 'Delhi Chalo' march, in Patiala district, Tuesday, February 13, 2024.Photo | PTI

In Haryana, 64 companies of paramilitary personnel and 50 from the Haryana Police have been deployed across various districts.

These personnel are equipped with anti-riot gear and stationed at the border and in sensitive districts.

Additionally, drones and CCTV cameras are being used to monitor miscreants and mischievous elements, said a spokesperson. The Haryana Police is fully capable of addressing any disturbances or untoward incidents, said the spokesperson.

Teargas dropped on farmers at Shambhu border (Punjab-Haryana) during their 'Delhi Chalo' march, in Ambala, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024.
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'Inconclusive meeting'

Following a second round of meetings that lasted more than five hours with the Centre late on Monday, Sarwan Singh Panhder, general secretary of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, said that they did not think the government was serious about any of their demands and hence would agitate.

However, Union Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda, who, along with Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal, who has attended the second round of talks with the farm leaders, said a consensus was reached on most issues and a formula was proposed for resolving some others through the formation of a committee.

Samyukta Kisan Morcha (non-political) leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal had said the government wanted the formation of a committee on the issues of giving legal guarantees to MSP, debt waivers, and the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations.

"It is our compulsion to move towards Delhi," he added when asked about the 'Delhi Chalo' march call.

Teargas dropped on farmers at Shambhu border (Punjab-Haryana) during their 'Delhi Chalo' march, in Ambala, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024.
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What are the farmers demanding?

  1. A legal guarantee for MSP

  2. Implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations, pensions for farmers and farm labourers

  3. Total farm debt waiver

  4. Withdrawal of police cases and "justice" for victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence

  5. Reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act - 2013

  6. Withdrawal from the World Trade Organization

  7. Compensation for families of farmers who died during the previous agitation, among other demands

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(With inputs from PTI and ANI)

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