With Delhi Police removing a large portion of the barricades and concertina wires at two anti-farm law protest sites, farmer leaders said the move vindicates their stand that they never blocked roads at the city’s border points.
Multiple layers of iron and cement barricades, and at least five layers of concertina wires were put up last year. The arrangements were further beefed up after the January 26 violence in Delhi during the farmers’ protest against three new agriculture laws of the Centre.
The Delhi Police, on Thursday evening, started removing the barricades and concertina wires it had put in place at the anti-farm laws protest site at Tikri Border on the Delhi-Rohtak highway. Similar action was initiated at Ghazipur on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border on Friday morning.
Farmer leaders said any decision to entirely clear both the carriageways at the protest sites will be taken by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of over 40 farmer unions protesting against the Centre’s farm laws.
They, however, said they would make way for traffic to move in the coming days.
The Delhi Police decision comes days after a Supreme Court hearing that saw farmer unions arguing that the police were responsible for the blockade at the city’s borders.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) office bearers said police and not farmers had blocked roads, adding that they are being “reopened on the directions of the Supreme Court”.
In light of the removal of barricades at Ghazipur border protest site, BKU leader Rakesh Tikait said the future course of the ongoing farmers’ protest would be decided by the SKM.
Senior farmer leader and SKM member Darshan Pal said false allegations were being levelled against farmers that they have blocked roads, which have been rejected by the protesters since day one.
Pal said at the Singhu border, farmers have occupied the portion of road which is already closed for traffic due to the construction of a flyover.
Now, the exercise of “removal of barricades by the police clearly proves our point that it was the police that have blocked roads and not the farmers. We never created any problem. Any bottleneck from our side will also be cleared for traffic movement,” Pal told PTI.
Any decision to entirely clear both carriageways of roads or march towards Delhi will be taken by the SKM, he added.
So far, there is no call to go to Delhi. Any future course of action will be decided in a meeting of the SKM, Pal said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) Priyanka Kashyap said, “The process of removing the barricades from National Highway 9 has started. The temporary barricading is being removed to ease out vehicular movement. However, National Highway 24 was already open for traffic.”
The opening of the road stretch would help thousands of commuters in Ghaziabad, Delhi and Noida as well as those travelling between the national capital and the interiors of Uttar Pradesh, towards Meerut and beyond.
Police officials and labourers were also seen removing the iron nails that were studded on NH-9 at Ghazipur, where hundreds of protesters, mostly members of the BKU, have been occupying a road stretch since November 2020.
Thousands of farmers have been camping at Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur, protesting against the three contentious laws since November 26, 2020.
The Supreme Court had, on October 21, said the farmers protesting at Delhi’s borders have the right to agitate but they cannot block the roads indefinitely. (PTI)