Farmers on Friday claimed they foiled a police attempt to open a 40-foot crossing for traffic at the Tikri border on the Delhi-Rohtak highway. The development came after farmers offered a 5-foot passage over the road during a meeting with officials in Delhi and Haryana, a proposal that was rejected by government officials. After talks ended on Friday, farmers’ leaders said they would discuss the issue at a meeting of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) in a few days.
BKU chief Jogender Nain said: âOn one side of the Delhi-Rohtak highway at the Tikri border, there is the SKM stage. Across the highway, police removed the barricade late that evening for making a 40-foot passage to open it to traffic. As soon as the farmers learned of this development, they gathered there and launched slogans. The border has again been blocked. This is a betrayal of the farmers as they did not agree to fully open the highway at this point. In a meeting with the administration, farmer leaders only said the government’s proposal would be submitted to SKM in early November for decision.
Farmer leaders also said they would opt for a common strategy for the three borders – Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur.
In an attempt to open the highway, officers from Haryana and Delhi held a meeting with farmer leaders at the mini secretariat in Bahadurgarh (Jhajjar) on Friday. Delhi police began to lift police barricades at the Tikri border on Thursday. To go further, the administration organized a meeting with peasant leaders in which representatives of local traders also participated. Over the past 11 months, farmers protesting against three farm laws have camped on Delhi’s borders.
Friday’s meeting took place just a day after three protesters were killed and two others were injured when a truck struck them near the Tikri border.
In this context, the peasant leaders expressed their apprehension of similar accidents if the highway were opened at a time when they were also camping there.
After the meeting, Jhajjar DC Shyam Lal Poonia said, âFarmers’ organizations said that opening the highway would create problems for them. They are also concerned about the (flow of) traffic. We have proposed that only non-commercial vehicles circulate in the event of the highway reopening. However, agreement could not be reached on this point as well. They said they would say their response after speaking to SKM executives only. They asked for time until November 6. More talks are needed. No final decision has yet been taken. There is no advantage in opening only a 5 foot passage.
Farmer union leaders said they did not come to sit at Delhi’s borders on November 26 last year, but to move to Ramlila Maidan from the nation’s capital.
âBut now the circumstances have changed as farmers set up temporary houses at the borders after Delhi police set up barricades at the borders. We are not responsible for the highway blockage, but Delhi Police is. Now who will be responsible if farmers insist on marching to the nation’s capital after the highways reopen? said Punjabi farmer Boota Singh Burjgil, who participated in the talks on Friday.
Burjgil, who is chairman of BKU (Dakaunda), said, âWe don’t want inconvenience for the common man, that’s why we have proposed a 5ft passage for small vehicles. Who will be responsible for accidents if commercial vehicles, including buses, are traveling on the highway even when farmers are sitting there? We have also observed a contradiction between the position of the authorities in Delhi and Haryana. Haryana officials wanted the highway to open on both sides – inbound and outbound, but Delhi officials wanted the highway open to vehicles traveling from Delhi to Haryana only. “
Rakesh Tikait, meanwhile, criticized the government for not talking to the farmers, but for making efforts to get them to leave the borders. He said they were keeping an eye on ongoing developments at the borders, asking farmers to remain vigilant. However, he said it was not necessary for farmers to move to the borders right away, but to wait for SKM’s call.
In a video message to farmers, Tikait said, âWe have been keeping an eye on the developments that have taken place today. Sometimes they (the authorities) talk about opening the border. Sometimes they try to show us JCBsâ¦ If the border is open, farmers will be the first to move to Delhi whose crops are not bought at the minimum support price (MSP). We will come to Delhi with our tractors to sell our crops there if Samyukt Kisan Morcha says so. Farmers will move to Delhi with their aata chakki to provide residents with fresh flour. The aata of bajra, wheat and corn will be sold outside Delhi malls.