At midnight on January 27, news that the main power supply was cut off at the farmers protest site on the Ghazipur (Uttar Pradesh) – Delhi border filtered in on social media. Earlier on the same day, there had been an increased deployment of UP and Delhi Police as well as more central security forces at Ghazipur border. The blackout at midnight, however, has put the area on a higher alert now.
The street lights were an element of security on the road in the foggy winter nights, especially as many, including women and children would be asleep in the tents and tractor trolleys. The volunteers take turns to stay awake on guard duty.
Another news of a police crackdown, then followed, visuals from a farmers protest at Baraut, Baghpat in UP. The video shows the farmers being chased away from the tent late at night. There seems to have been a sudden lathi charge at midnight upon the farmers who have reportedly been sitting on protest there for over a month, according to social media users who shared the video across platforms.
कल देर रात बड़ौत में पुलिस ने सोते हुए किसानों पर लाठियां बरसाई!
इस बुजुर्ग किसान को देखो। ये कोई आतंकवादी या अपराधी है क्या? pic.twitter.com/6G4J6aGEgR
— Jayant Chaudhary (@jayantrld) January 28, 2021
According to a report in Navbharat Times, police also uprooted the farmers’ tents. It was reported that some farmers were also hurt during this period, however the Baghpat administration has denied this and said that no force was used. This dharna (sit-in protest) site was on the Delhi-Saharanpur highway. Baghpat ADM Amit Kumar Singh issued a statement to the media saying, “We had a letter from NHAI” informing that their work on the highway “was being hampered and delayed” due to the farmers protest. He added that the farmers left on “their own peacefully”.
Another protest venue at Chilla border, on the Delhi-Noida Link road was also vacated as the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU)’s Bhanu faction called off its 58-day protest there. Traffic on the road, connecting Noida to Delhi, has now been restored. Tents used by Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan (RKMS) President V. M. Singh and Bharatiya Kisan Union (Bhanu) leader Bhanu Pratap Singh who dissociated their organisations from the farmers’ movement were also reportedly removed. Farmer Union had already stated that the two leaders had already been removed from the coalition group a month ago.
“Right from the start, VM Singh took pro-government positions. As a result, on Dec 14, he was REMOVED as Convenor of the AIKSCC. So, he is taking a decision on behalf of a committee he is no more a convenor of,” said farmer Union officials, similarly, BKU leader Bhanu Pratap Singh was also publicly dissociated from the SKM on the same day.
However, lakhs of farmers who have been sitting on a peaceful protest on the borders of the national Capital are still there. Traffic restrictions continue on those roads as advised by the police. The elevated road leading to Ghazipur from Delhi was also opened to traffic, as the farmers protest continued on the other side, and under the flyover on its service lane, even on that side, the farmers have left a lane vacant for ambulances and emergency vehicles to pass. But security has also been tightened on the areas where the protests are, including at Tikri Border and other areas where farmers are continuing to sit in protest against the contentious farm laws. Farmer volunteers have also been ensuring that the protest sites remain safe and are on the lookout for any suspicious movements on the sites.
(Photos: ANI) pic.twitter.com/0zHJn5vqu3
— NDTV (@ndtv) January 28, 2021
According to those farmers on the ground, more people are expected to join in a few days. The proposed march to Parliament February 1, Budget Day has been cancelled and farmers will now hold ‘jan sabhas’ or public meetings across India on January 30, or Martyrs Day, when Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead by Nathuram Godse. Farmers will also sit on a one day anshan or hunger strike on January 30. Many farmers, including the elderly have been sitting on a relay hunger strike for two months demanding that the farm laws be repealed.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) held an emergency meeting chaired by Balbir Singh Rajewal after the Kisan Republic Day Parade, and discussed the violent incidents in New Delhi. The SKM stated that “a dirty conspiracy was hatched with Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee and others against the peaceful struggle of other farmer organizations, who had set up their own separate protest site after 15 days of beginning of this Farmers’ agitation. They were not part of the organisations which jointly undertook the struggle. When the farmer organizations declared a programme of Kisan Parade on January 26, anti-social elements like Deep Sidhu and others, along with the said farmer organization attempted to torpedo the farmers’ agitation.”
According to the SKM, the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee and others “announced that they would march on Ring Road and unfurl a flag on the Red Fort,” and they did so as a part of a “deep rooted conspiracy to knock down the peaceful and strong farmers’ struggle”
The constituents of Samyukt Kisan Morcha have strongly condemned this incident, and the “anti-social elements, who tried to damage the peaceful farmers struggle.” They have appealed to the farmers to stay on the protest venues and continue a peaceful struggle and have resolved “not to allow the government and other forces inimical to the peaceful movement to break this struggle.” The statement was issued after the emergency meeting of 32 organizations called on January 27 to chalk out the future programme. It was signed by the farmers movement leaders Balbir singh Rajewal, Jagjeet Singh Dallewal and Dr. Darshan Pal.
Meanwhile in Delhi, the Archaeological Survey of India has said that the Red Fort will remain shut till January 31.