Farmers' protest: Violence at Singhu after 'locals' clash with protesters; thosuands gather in Muzaffarpur supporting BKU

The Singhu border site also saw some disruption on Thursday, when a group of people raised slogans demanding the removal of the protesting farmers from the area

FP Staff January 29, 2021 22:40:03 IST
Farmers' protest: Violence at Singhu after 'locals' clash with protesters; thosuands gather in Muzaffarpur supporting BKU

Violence broke out at the Singhu protest site on Friday. PTI

Violence broke out at the Singhu border on Friday after a group of people claiming to be locals demanded that the protesting farmers, who have been staging a protest at the site for two months, vacate the area. Additionally, thousands of farmers reached protest sites on Friday and more are expected to join soon as union leaders accused the government of trying to destroy their "peaceful" agitation and sought support of people in observing 30 January as 'Sadbhavna Diwas'.

The situation at Singhu on Friday afternoon escalated into violence after the two sides started pelting stones at each other and the Delhi Police used lathicharge and tear gas to control the situation.

NDTV reported that the group of outsiders, around 200 in number, also vandalised the farmers' tents and sought to damage other facilities like their washing machines.

Delhi Police SHO (Alipur) Pradeep Paliwal was injured in the episode after a man attacked him with a sword, PTI quoted officials as saying, adding that some civilians were also wounded. The report added that the police had detained the man who attacked the station house officer.

Armed with sticks, the group of "locals" reached the site and asked the farmers to leave while raising slogans against them. The protesters at the Singhu border, much of which is barred for entry from outside, came out in numbers to resist the outsiders.

However, they were promptly stopped by farmer union volunteers, which stopped the situation from turning ugly, PTI reported.

"They are not locals but hired goons. They were throwing stones, petrol bombs at us. They attempted to burn down our trolleys also. We are here to resist them. We won't leave the place," said Harkirat Mann Beniwal, 21, from Punjab's Khana district, according to PTI.

As tension built up at the Singhu border on Friday afternoon, the protest point turned into a fortress. The police tightened security by making multi-layered security arrangements, installing barricades and blocking all entry points into the protest.

The Singhu border protest has been the "nerve-centre" of two-month-long farmers protest. On Friday, thousands of security personnel were seen marching at the site, PTI reported.

The heightened security measures and restrictions have been brought into place after violence on Republic Day that left 394 policemen injured and one protestor dead. No one, even media personnel, were allowed to enter the protest site on Friday with the area cordoned off by multiple concrete barricades and intermodal containers.

"These batons, tear gas shells and ammunition can't scare us. We won't budge, we won't leave till our demands of repealing three farm laws are met," said 26-year-old Manjeet Dhillon, from Haryana's Kaithal, while standing on the other side of the barricade.

"Shortly after the clashes at the Singhu border, similar scenes were reported from Tikri, another Delhi-Haryana border, where a group of people began opposing the farmers' protest and demanded they vacate the site," NDTV reported.

The Singhu border site also saw some disruption on Thursday, when a group of people raised slogans demanding the removal of the protesting farmers from the area.

On Thursday, a similarly tense situation prevailed at the Ghazipur border protest, which is on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border. The Ghaziabad district administration had issued orders for the protest to be cleared by Thursday evening, however, police personnel withdrew from the area after a significant influx of farmers to fortify the protest.

Thousands of farmers from western Uttar Pradesh joined BKU members who have stayed put at Ghazipur.

Around 3,000 security personnel, including those from the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), the Rapid Action Force (RAF) in anti-riot gears and civil police, were deployed in and around Ghazipur protest site, DSP Indiapuram Anshu Jain told PTI.

The size of the crowd, which increased manifold overnight, was estimated around five to six thousand by districts officials while BKU office-bearers present there claimed it to be upwards of 10,000 on Friday evening.

Meanwhile, in Haryana, the state government on Friday decided to suspend mobile internet services in 14 more districts till 5 pm on Saturday "to prevent any disturbance of peace and public order in the wake of the farmers' protest".

The mobile internet services except voice calls will remain suspended with immediate effect until 5 pm on Saturday in districts of Ambala, Yamunanagar, Kurukshetra, Karnal, Kaithal, Panipat, Hisar, Jind, Rohtak, Bhiwani, Charkhi Dadri, Fatehabad, Rewari and Sirsa districts, an order issued by the state home department said.

On Tuesday, the government had ordered suspension of mobile internet services in Sonipat, Jhajjar and Palwal districts "to prevent disturbance of peace and public order" after a violent farmers' protest rocked neighbouring Delhi. The services will remain suspended in these three districts too until 5 pm on Saturday, as per the order.

Farmers to hold 'Sadbhavna Diwas' on 30 Jan, observe day-long fast

Farmers protesting against the Centre's new agri laws will observe 'Sadbhavna Diwas' on Mahatma Gandhi's death anniversary on 30 January and hold a day-long fast, farm union leaders said.

Addressing a press conference at Delhi's Singhu border, the farmer leaders said the fast will be held from 9 am to 5 pm and appealed to the people of the country to join them.

The farmer leaders also slammed the ruling BJP at the Centre and accused it of trying to "destroy" the "peaceful" agitation against the agri laws. "The conspiracy of the ruling BJP to destroy this farmers' movement is now exposed to all," he said .

At the press conference, Krantikari Kisan Union leader Darshan Pal also said, "We demand the restoration of internet services in areas where agitation is going on. Otherwise, we will hold demonstration against it in the country."

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

Delhi Police says SHO 'grievously injured' at Singhu

The Delhi Police said the SHO who was attacked by a man with a sword at the Singhu border protest site has suffered "grievous injuries" on his hand.

Paliwal was intervening in the clash between farmers and a large group of men claiming to be local residents over vacating the Singhu border protest site.

"SHO Alipur, Delhi intervened between rioting protestors (MKSC faction) and local Singhu villagers, who had gone to register their protest against the happenings on Republic Day-2021 and continued loss of ordinary livelihoods for over two months," the Delhi Police said in a tweet.

In another tweet, police said, "This is how the SHO was assaulted; he has suffered grievous injuries on his hand...Peace has been restored. Legal action is being initiated."

Unease at Singhu after violence

While there was a sense of unease among some protestors at the Singhu border after the violence, farmer leaders continued to address the crowd and sought to boost morale at the respective stages of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) and the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Samiti (KMSC).

The SKM, which is an umbrella organisation of around 35 farmer bodies, has blamed the KMSC, actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu, and the Centre for the violence during the farmers' tractor parade in Delhi on 26 January.

The tractor parade on Tuesday that was to highlight the demand of the protesting farmer unions for a repeal of three new agriculture laws turned violent after some protesters deviated from the pre-designated routes, stormed the Red Fort and hoisted a religious flag on the ramparts of the iconic fort.

The police issued lookout notices against farmer leaders on Thursday and announced a probe into the "conspiracy" behind the Republic Day violence.

The police have so far registered 33 FIRs in connection with the violence and issued lookout notices against 44 people, including most of the farmer leaders.

Rahul Gandhi says farmers' agitation will spread across country if not resolved soon

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday warned that the farmers' agitation will spread across the country if not resolved soon and asserted that the only solution to the issue was to "throw" the new agri laws in the bin.

Addressing a press conference, he launched an all-out attack at the Centre and accused it of trying to intimidate and discredit the agitating farmers, by even using the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

"The government must not think that the farmers are going back home. They are not going to return and my concern is that this situation is going to spread. We do not need this situation to spread, we need a conversation with the farmers and we need a solution," he said.

"I want to tell the farmers that they should not step back as all of us are with them. You (the farmers) should not step back even an inch as this your their future and you should continue to fight. These four-five people who want to steal everything you have, you should not allow them to do so and we all will support you," he added.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi should not think that this agitation will stop here. It will spread in the cities, urban areas and slums as the youth there also angry with this government as they do not see any future.

"I am telling the prime minister that the country will suffer due to this. You should talk to the farmers and resolve the situation by taking back these laws, otherwise the country will be hurt. This instability will not help and benefit the country. This instability will not go unless you correct the injustice done," Rahul said, adding that the government should talk to farmers and resolve the issue soon.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also spoke in support of the farmers on Friday.

Other Opposition parties like the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party also rallied support for the movement and slammed the BJP over the contentious farm laws.

Thousands of farmers attend mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar to back BKU

Tens of thousands of farmers gathered in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar to attend an event in support of the Bharatiya Kisan Union-led protest against the Centre's new farm laws in Ghazipur.

A day after BKU leader Rakesh Tikait broke down at Ghazipur and tension spiralled amid fears that the farmers who had been camping there for two months will be forcibly removed by the local administration, all roads in western Uttar Pradesh it seemed led to Muzaffarnagar.

The GIC ground near Mahaveer Chowk was packed, a sea of people congregating to back the protesters at UP Gate in Ghazipur. Hundreds of tractors with the Tricolour and flags of farm unions were parked along city roads, disrupting traffic movement.

The GIC ground was the centre-stage and scores of regional farmer leaders took the mic to support the protesters at the UP Gate in Ghazipur.

As Muzaffarnagar became the meeting point for farmers from across the region, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh also announced support for the BKU and his son, party leader Jayant Chaudhary, participated in the mahapanchayat too.

Singh, RLD president and former Union minister, had spoken to BKU president Naresh Tikait and spokesperson Rakesh Tikait, party vice president Chaudhary said.

With inputs from agencies

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