A day ahead of farmers' slated protest march to Delhi against the Centre's farm laws, Haryana on Wednesday heavily barricaded its borders with Punjab and suspended its bus service to the neighbouring state in a bid to foil the march. The Haryana police also used water cannons against the state's farmers on the national highway in Ambala and Kurukshetra to stop them from moving to Delhi. The BJP-ruled Haryana also suspended its transport bus service to Punjab with immediate effect on Wednesday because of the farmers' “Delhi Chalo” call. “We have suspended roadways service to Punjab for the next two days,” Haryana Transport Minister Mool Chand Sharma told PTI.
Chandigarh Transport Undertaking too, meanwhile on Wednesday evening, suspended its bus services to Haryana for the next two days amid the farmers “Delhi Chalo” call, said officials. Braving the cold and rainy weather, thousands of farmers assembled during the day along with their tractor trolleys on the Punjab side of the inter-state border to undertake onward march to Delhi but had to stay put in Punjab amid the heavy police deployment on the border.
Haryana will completely seal its borders with Punjab on November 26 and 27, the day for which farmers’ bodies have given the call for Delhi Chalo. Haryana police officials said amid the Covid-19 restrictions, they cannot allow movement of a large number of people towards the national capital.
Meanwhile on Wednesday evening, a large group of farmers having gathered on GT Road near Mohra village in Ambala during the day under the leadership of Haryana BKU chief Gurnam Singh, allegedly jumped over the barricade following which the police resorted to the use of water cannon against them. Despite this, a splinter group managed to proceed to Tiyora-Tiyori village on Ambala-Kurukshetra border, where the police again used the water cannon against them to stop their onward march to Delhi. Amid the farmers blocking various stretches of roads, the vehicular traffic too was severely disrupted for several hours on the national highway.
A few army vehicles also remained stranded in Kurukshetra district for some time due to the agitation, officials said. Gurnam Singh later told reporters, “Even if the police use lathis and force, nothing can stop farmers. We will continue our march towards Delhi. We will force the Centre to roll back these black anti-farmer laws”. Farmers were seen carrying food and clothes and had stocked other essentials in their tractor-trollies and planned to spend the night either in their vehicles or temporary shelters they had set up along the highway.
Karnal's Superintendent of Police Ganga Ram Punia told reporters that sufficient police force has been deployed to maintain law and order because of the farmers’ protest march. Videography and photography were being done at inter-state borders and other sensitive points by the Haryana police.
The Haryana police has deployed an adequate number of security personnel at roads bordering Punjab to prevent farmers from moving towards Delhi. The Haryana police put up multi-layered barricades and boulders on roads from Punjab to check farmers' entry to the state, officials said, adding the traffic would also be diverted. The police were also keeping vigil over farmers’ groups with drones hovering over them on inter-state borders.
A Punjab police official on duty at Khanauri inter-state border told reporters that the Haryana police used cranes to put boulders on roads and the movement of traffic to the other side has been stopped. "We are diverting traffic to alternate routes now. We are also ensuring that the movement of essential goods is not affected," he said. A truck driver carrying some essentials from Jalandhar to Mumbai said he got stuck as vehicles’ movement towards Haryana has been stopped near the inter-state border in Fatehabad.
Earlier on Tuesday, a detailed advisory was issued by the Haryana police urging commuters to modify their travel plans because of the farmers' protest march. Asserting that farmers from Punjab will not be allowed to enter the state, the Haryana police said it has deployed water cannons and riot vehicles on the borders.
Restrictions have also been imposed at other inter-state border points with Punjab, including those in Ambala, Sirsa, Kurukshetra, Fatehabad and Jind districts. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Tuesday had said the state borders with Punjab would remain sealed on November 26 and 27. On Tuesday, the Haryana police had taken many farmer leaders into preventive custody, a move which evoked strong reaction from the opposition Congress and farmer bodies.
Haryana Congress president Kumari Selja on Wednesday said the Congress stands shoulder-to-shoulder with farms in their fight against the farm laws. She claimed the BJP-led government was trying to muzzle farmers’ voice and prevent them from registering their protest against the “anti-farmer” central laws.