NEW DELHI/GHAZIABAD: The fifth day of protests at UP Gate saw many more groups of farmers joining the agitation from Baghpat and as far as Uttarakhand. The protesters, who want the three agriculture laws recently passed by the Parliament withdrawn, grew restive as the day progressed and made multiple attempts to cross over to the capital.
They were, however, sent back each time as the Delhi Police tightened its security at the Ghazipur border and added a fourth layer of barricade. Several cement barricades were also placed at the entry point so that the protesters could not move them.
On Sunday, too, the protesting farmers had made at least three attempts to cross over to Delhi, but to no avail. They said they would not budge an inch from UP Gate and would even choke the Loni border if the government did not initiate talks with them. A second round of ministerial talks is scheduled on December 3.
The morning routine on Monday was no different for the farmers at UP Gate. They woke up around 5am, took bath in the mobile washrooms that the Ghaziabad administration had set up for them, cooked and ate breakfast, and then started their protest march towards Delhi. Since it was Guru Nanak Jayanti on Monday, many farmers sang hymns and kirtans.
It was around 8am that the agitators first tried to break and climb over the barricades and enter Delhi, but were stopped by the huge force of police that had been stationed there. The second attempt was made two hours later around 10am. This time, too, the farmers had to retreat. In the evening, around 5.30pm, the protesters again attempted to enter the capital. They had heated exchanges with the police and were sent back.
A senior officer of Delhi Police said over 300 cops had been deployed to stop the farmers at the Ghazipur border alone. “They were trying to barge into the capital after every two or three hours. But we managed to send them back each time,” he added.
Rajvir Singh, vice-president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), said they were waiting for December 3, when talks with the government are scheduled. “But if the government does not initiate talks, we will block each and every lane of NH-24, Eastern Peripheral Expressway and all other important highways. Other farmer outfits will chock every road leading to Delhi,” he added.
Rakesh Tikait, another BKU leader, said more farmers would join the protest from other parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. “We still stay here unless the government talks to us and amend the laws. We expect more farmers to come in over the next few days. If the police can impose Section 144, we will impose Section 288. We will protest on our side and the cops can’t come here,” he added.
Song, dance & food
On Sunday night, the protest site at UP Gate resembled nothing less than a picnic ground. The farmers who were shouting slogans against the government in the morning were singing folk songs and some were even dancing to the tunes. While one group of farmers made tea and cooked dinner, another batch sat in line and ate the food together. To end on a sweet note, all were given a dollop of jaggery kheer each after dinner.
The Ghaziabad administration had cleaned the area and fogging was done too at UP Gate. Mobile toilets were also set up for the protesters.