Press Trust of india

We stand vindicated, say farm unions as cops begin removing barricades at farmers’ protest sites

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New Delhi: With the Delhi Police beginning to remove barricades at two farmer protest sites — Tikri and Ghazipur — farm union leaders on Friday said the move vindicates their stand that they never blocked roads at the city border points.

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 way will be made for traffic to move in the coming days.

The Delhi Police’s 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.

Bhartiya 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 Samyukta Kisan Morcha, which is leading the movement against the three farm laws.”

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 us since day one.

Pal said at Singhu border, farmers have occupied the portion of road which is already closed for traffic due to 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 Samyukt Kisan Morcha,” Pal said.

Thousands of farmers have been camping at the three borders points — Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur — protesting the Centre’s three farm laws since November 26, 2020.

While the protesting farmers have been claiming that the three laws enacted last year are against their interest, the Centre has been saying these legislations are pro-farmer.

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 Delhi-Rohtak highway. Similar action was initiated at Ghazipur on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border on Friday morning.

Farmer leader and a representative of Rastriya Kisan Majdoor Sabha, Abhimanyu Kohar said the decision to remove barricades has vindicated the farmers’ stand and will ease traffic movement at the borders.

“For the last 11 months, we have been saying that farmers never blocked roads as we are simply protesting against farm laws. Today we are proved right. It is good that traffic will now be able to move at borders,” Kohar said.

Another farmer leader at Tikri Border and a member of SKM, Sudesh Goyat accused the Delhi Police of obstructing vehicular movement.

In February, protesting farmers at Tikri Border cleared the way for an ambulance but it had to return as the Delhi Police had blocked the road, she claimed.

“We are happy that roadblocks are being removed and now traffic will be able to move. It will also help in reviving economy here as petrol pumps, shops which are shut for 11 months due to road closure will now start functioning again,” Goyat said.

Farmer leaders also hoped that the Centre would invite farmers for a dialogue to break the logjam over the farm laws.

BKU spokesperson Saurabh Upadhyay said farmers want to go to Delhi but the SKM will take the final call.

“If the government wants the logjam to end, it should talk to the farmers now and we are ready for it. But if it wants the farmers’ movement to continue, we are determined to prolong it as it has already been 11 months since the protests began,” Upadhyay told PTI.

On October 21, the Supreme Court had said farmers have the right to protest and was not against this even when a legal challenge against the three farm laws is pending but they cannot block roads “indefinitely”, an observation that came amid a blame game between the Centre and the farmer unions.

While the farmers’ unions alleged that the police were responsible for the blockade at the Delhi borders as it suits them to allow a feeling in the minds of the citizens that farmers are blocking the road, the Centre claimed there was an oblique purpose behind the protests.

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