Thursday, Jun 30, 2022

Centre Suspends Internet Services Near Farmers' Protest Sites In Delhi, Union Leaders Observe Day-Long Fast

The Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday announced the temporary suspension of internet services at Singhu, Ghazipur, Tikri borders and adjoining areas till 11 pm of January 31.

Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait addresses protesting farmers at Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border, in New Delhi. Mohsin Javed/Outlook

Scores of protesting farmers stayed put at the Ghazipur border on Saturday morning, as more supporters poured in at the protest site located on the Delhi-Meerut Expressway. This comes amidst protesting farm unions deciding to go on a fast as they observe ‘Sadbhavna Diwas’ today, to mark Mahatma Gandhi's death anniversary.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday announced the temporary suspension of internet services at Singhu, Ghazipur, Tikri borders and adjoining areas till 11 pm of January 31.

Hundreds of more protesters joined forces with members of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) on Saturday, in an attempt to intensify the farmers’ protest against the Centre’s recent agriculture laws. This comes in the backdrop of a mahapanchayat of farmers that was held earlier today in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar, organised by the BKU. Many farmers from Haryana and Rajasthan joined the BKU’s protests on Saturday.

"The movement was and is strong," BKU's Meerut Zone president Pawan Khatana told PTI.

Khatana, who was at the demonstration site with BKU leader Rakesh Tikait, said there has been continuous support for the "peaceful protest" against the Centre’s farm legislations.

"This is not a political protest. Anybody who shares the ideology of the BKU and Rakesh Tikait are welcome here. But it is our appeal to those who do not wish to support the movement till the end that please do not come only to leave in between," he said.

Asked about estimated crowd size at the site, the farmer leader from western Uttar Pradesh said, "Farmers are coming in to show solidarity and leaving. It is not a stagnant crowd."

On Saturday night, the BKU office-bearers had estimated a crowd of around 10,000 people at Ghazipur while the Ghaziabad police officials pegged it around 5,000 to 6,000.

Heavy security deployment, including personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), Rapid Action Force (RAF) in anti-riot gears and civil police, was seen at the protest site.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Traffic Police said that vehicular movement on National Highway 24 (Delhi-Meerut Expressway) has been restricted.

Farmer leader Abhimanyu Kohar, a senior member of Samkyukt Kisan Morcha -- an umbrella body of farmer unions -- said the ongoing agitation will gain strength as farmers will join the protests in large numbers in the next few days.

During a press conference on Friday, the farm union leaders slammed the ruling BJP at the Centre and accused it of trying to "destroy" their "peaceful" agitation.

The farmer leaders claimed that the number of agitators at all the protest venues including Ghazipur, Singhu and Tikri borders is swelling after the police allegedly tried to remove farmer leader Rakesh Tikait from Ghazipur border on Thursday night.

Thousands of farmers have been protesting at Delhi's borders, demanding a rollback of the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

The protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporations.

However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring better opportunities to farmers and introduce new technologies in agriculture.

(With PTI inputs)