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Farmers at Punjab-Haryana border to resume 'Dilli Chalo' march

At the Shambhu border point, the farmers have brought excavators in order to make their way through the multi-layered barricades set up by the Haryana security personnel. Some of the farmers are carrying masks to protect themselves from tear-gas shells.
Last Updated 21 February 2024, 04:20 IST

Chandigarh: Farmers protesting at two border points between Punjab and Haryana will resume their 'Dilli Chalo' march on Wednesday after they rejected the Centre's proposal for procuring pulses, maize and cotton at the MSP by government agencies for five years.

Thousands of farmers, who began their march to Delhi on February 13, were stopped at the Haryana border, where they clashed with security personnel. The farmers have been camping at the Shambhu and Khanauri points between Punjab and Haryana since then.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha are spearheading the 'Dilli Chalo' march to press the BJP-led Centre to accept their demands, including a legal guarantee on the minimum support price (MSP) for crops and farm loan waiver.

The last round of talks between the farmers and the government ended past midnight on Sunday when a panel of ministers proposed buying five crops -- moong dal, urad dal, tur dal, maize and cotton -- from farmers at the MSP for five years through central agencies.

The protesting farmer leaders have formally rejected the offer, with Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal saying on Tuesday that it was not in the farmers' interest.

The farmer leaders have held four rounds of talks with Union ministers Piyush Goyal, Arjun Munda and Nityanand Rai on February 8, 12, 15 and 18. The talks have remained inconclusive.

At the Shambhu border point, the farmers have brought excavators in order to make their way through the multi-layered barricades set up by the Haryana security personnel. Some of the farmers are carrying masks to protect themselves from tear-gas shells.

Tight security arrangements are in place at the Shambhu and Khanauri border points.

The Haryana Police has urged its Punjab counterpart to seize bulldozers and other earthmoving equipment from the inter-state border, which they say the protesters will use to break the barricades.

These could pose a threat to the security forces deployed at the border, Haryana Director General of Police (DGP) Shatrujeet Kapoor has said in an urgent communication to his Punjab counterpart, Gaurav Yadav.

Later, in a communication to senior police officers, the Punjab DGP said no JCB machines and other heavy earthmoving equipment should be allowed to reach the Khanauri and Shambu border points as inputs indicate that the protesters plan to break the barricades and enter Haryana.

"It is reliably learnt that heavy earthmoving equipment, including proclain (digger), JCB etc., that have been further modified/armour-plated have been acquired by protesting farmers and have been deployed at the border locations where the protesters are camping right now," the letter written by the Haryana DGP stated.

"These machines are meant to be used by the protesters to damage the barricades, thereby posing serious danger to the police and paramilitary forces deployed on duty, and are likely to compromise the security scenario in Haryana," it said.

The Haryana government has further extended the ban on mobile internet and bulk text-message services in seven districts by a day till Wednesday in view of the farmers' 'Dilli Chalo' agitation.

These districts are Ambala, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind, Hisar, Fatehabad and Sirsa, the government said in an order.

Farmer leader Abhimanyu Kohar on Tuesday said the farmers are ready to march towards Delhi in a 'peaceful' manner from the Shambhu and Khanauri border points.

He said the farmers have been told to head towards the national capital peacefully.

"We will remain peaceful," Kohar said.

Kisan Mazdoor Morcha leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said on Tuesday that the Centre should convene a daylong Parliament session to bring a law on the MSP for crops.

Pandher said the farmers have three big demands -- a legal guarantee on the MSP for all crops, the implementation of the 'C2 plus 50 per cent' formula as recommended by the Swaminathan Commission and farm loan waiver.

Besides a legal guarantee on the MSP, the farmers are demanding the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations, pension for farmers and farm labourers, farm loan waiver, no hike in the electricity tariff, withdrawal of police cases and 'justice' for the victims of the 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence in Uttar Pradesh, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013 and compensation to the families of the farmers who died during a previous agitation in 2020-21.

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(Published 21 February 2024, 04:20 IST)

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