From concrete barricades to barbed wires, Delhi Police sets up strict security measures; protesters say 'can't cage our spirits'

The security measures, meant to restrict the movement of farmers protesting the Centre's new laws, have evoked sharp condemnation from Opposition leaders, with Rahul Gandhi exhorting the government to 'build bridges, not walls'

FP Staff February 02, 2021 14:07:12 IST
From concrete barricades to barbed wires, Delhi Police sets up strict security measures; protesters say 'can't cage our spirits'

Barricades being set up as part of security enhancements by the police near the site of farmers ongoing protest at Singhu border on 1 February. PTI

Security has been stepped up manifold at Delhi’s borders on Tuesday, with the deployment of police and paramilitary personnel and the setting up of concrete barricades, razor wires and ditches.

The security measures, meant to restrict the movement of farmers protesting the Centre's new laws, have evoked sharp condemnation from Opposition leaders. Workers, under the watch of police personnel, were seen hooking iron rods between two rows of cement barriers on a flank of the main highway at the Singhu border.

Another portion of the highway at the Delhi-Haryana border is practically blocked now as a makeshift cement wall has come up there.

These security measures have also led to traffic snarls on many key roads in the National Capital.

Taking to Twitter, the Delhi Traffic Police alerted commuters about the closure of borders and suggested alternative roads for travel.

Besides the makeshift wall on the highway, a small trench was also dug up earlier across an inner street a little off the highway and cement barricades put up on both the sides.

On Monday, the Delhi side of the Singhu border saw a sparse crowd of protesters while the Haryana side was dominated by vociferous speeches denouncing the new farm laws and clarion calls to infuse a new sense of solidarity in the agitation after the Republic Day incident.

'Build bridges, not walls', says Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday attacked the government over barricades and roadblocks set up at farmer agitation sites on Delhi's borders, and asked the Centre to "build bridges and not walls".

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also slammed the government over the issue, asking it if it 'wants to wage war against its own farmers.'

Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav remarked, "This government is indeed strange — it erects walls to block roads, sets up barbed wires, and then calls for dialogue."

'Barricades can't cage our spirits'

Despite the stringent security arrangements, the protesting farmers and leaders at the site showed no signs of being cowed down and asserted that "these barricades put up around us can't cage our spirit".

They alleged that on 26 January, "a conspiracy was made to malign this movement" and "defame it", and more such attempts are being made while asserting that the agitation has "come out stronger" now.

Balwinder Singh Sirsa, a farmer leader from Sirsa, Haryana, exhorted people to not get demotivated by what happened during the January 26 incident, as it was "orchestrated by some people to denigrate the movement".

A woman protester from Haryana, addressing a huge gathering from the dais, said the alleged conspiracy on that day has "failed to weaken this movement" and has rather injected "a new lease of life" in it.

Randhir Singh, 85, a farmer from Haryana, also addressed the gathering saying "I have worked with legends Mahendra Singh Tikait and I know how Jat movement was weakened a few years ago".

"What happened on January 26 was a conspiracy. It was not done by farmers but all were part of a smear campaign bring run to defame the movement," he alleged.

"We are not terrorists or Khalistanis. We are fighting for our rights. Attempts are still being made to defame and weaken us. But (Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh) Tikait's tears have awakened the farmers of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and other states," he said.

The move comes days after the violent clashes between some protesters and police on January 26 during the tractor parade by the agitating farmers.

The section of the highway at the Singhu border, which has been the epicentre of the farmers' protests for over 60 days, had also seen a clash recently between farmers and a group of people who claimed to be local residents.

With inputs from PTI

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