Centre to talk with protesting farmers once again tomorrow in Punjab

At the Shambhu border point near Ambala, there was intermittent shelling Wednesday by security personnel at the Delhi Chalo' protesters who are demanding minimum support prices for their crops.

Chandigarh: Three Union ministers will meet farmer leaders in Chandigarh Thursday for another round of talks as the standoff between the protesters and police at the Punjab-Haryana border entered its second day, marked by more clashes between the two sides.

At the Shambhu border point near Ambala, there was intermittent shelling Wednesday by security personnel at the Delhi Chalo’ protesters who are demanding minimum support prices for their crops. Tear smoke was used whenever any group of farmers moved towards the barricades.

Security personnel faced stone-pelting from the protesters.

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A similar standoff continued at the at Data Singhwala-Khanauri border in Haryana’s Jind district.

But the situation remained less volatile compared to Tuesday, when farmers tried to shift cement barriers at Shambhu with their tractors, attempting to push towards Delhi.

100 protestors hurt on Tuesday: Farmer leaders

Farmer leaders claimed that over 100 protesters were hurt Tuesday, hit by rubber bullets and tear gas shells. Police said 24 of their men were injured in the stone-pelting by protesters during the first day of the protest.

Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said the meeting with ministers Arjun Munda, Piyush Goyal and Nityanand Rai will take place at 5 pm Thursday.

It will be the third round of meetings between the farmer leaders and the Centre in Chandigarh after farm organisations announced their plan to march to Delhi. The two earlier meetings, held before the march began, remained inconclusive.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha are spearheading the ‘Delhi Chalo’ agitation to put pressure on the Centre for their demands, including a law on MSP, loan waivers and implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations.

Earlier in the day, Pandher told reporters if there is an invitation for talks with the Centre, they would consider it. “We were ready for talks yesterday and we are ready for it even today,” he said.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda too held discussions in Delhi on addressing the farmers’ issues, sources said. Singh is a former agriculture minister.

Congress indicates support

The Congress again indicated its support for the protest with party leader Rahul Gandhi speaking to a farmer injured in police action.

“Talked on phone with former soldier Gurmeet Singh ji who was seriously injured in police atrocities during the farmers’ movement,” Gandhi wrote in Hindi on social media.

“We are with you. Don’t worry,” Gandhi told the farmer in the conversation brought about by Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh Raja Warring.

“You are fighting for what is important for the country. You earlier worked for the country and you are doing it now as well. ‘Shabash’ (Well done). Best of luck,” Gandhi told the farmer, while slamming the Narendra Modi government’s “dictatorial attitude”.

Situation at Shambhu border

The farmers at Shambhu, with their tractor-trolleys lining the road and more arriving from different parts of Punjab, are still over 200 km from their destination.

Multiple layers of concrete blocks and metal spikes are placed at Delhi’s Singhu and Tikri borders with Haryana as well as at the Ghazipur border with Uttar Pradesh.

Delhi-Sonipat traffic at Singhu and the movement of vehicles to Bahadurgarh through Tikri are suspended, an official said.

Security personnel deployed

Security personnel in anti-riot gear are deployed and drones used to keep an eye on the situation.

People had to cross the Singhu border on foot Tuesday with buses from Delhi dropping them off much ahead of the Haryana border.

Back at the Shambhu border between Punjab and Haryana, protesters have arranged tankers for water to counter the irritation caused in the eyes due to tear smoke. They also flew kites, hoping this would interfere with the movement of a drone spotted again on Wednesday.

While BJP-run Haryana is not allowing protesters passage to Delhi, they face no restrictions in Aam Aadmi Party-ruled Punjab.

Authorities in Punjab have registered their objection to the use of a drone by Haryana to air-drop tear gas shells on agitating farmers.

Patiala Deputy Commissioner Showkat Ahmed Parray wrote to his Ambala counterpart on Tuesday asking him not to send their drone inside Punjab’s territory.

In Delhi, commuters faced a harrowing time at Singhu border due to the sealing of the area and the heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces

“The bus dropped us way behind Singhu border which has been closed by the police. They told us that we have to walk towards the other side to get another mode of transport to Delhi,” Madhu, who was accompanied by her husband and two relatives, said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Siasat staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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