The Delhi Police have started removing barricades from the Tikri and the Ghazipur borders where thousands of farmers have been protesting since November last year, seeking the withdrawal of the Centre’s agricultural laws.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) Priyanka Kashyap said on Friday that National Highway 9 and National Highway 24 will be opened after the barricades are removed from Ghazipur border.
On Thursday, Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana had said the barricades are being removed after “assessing the situation”.
A police officer told PTI that four of the eight layers of barricades at Tikri border have been removed. However, cement barricades are still in place and the road remains closed for commuters, the officer added.
The move came a week after the Supreme Court had on October 21 said the farmers have right to protest, but cannot block roads. The farmers had told the court that the police were responsible for blocking the roads.
The Supreme Court had objected to highways in the Delhi-National Capital Region being blocked by protesting farmers.
On Friday, Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait said that the farmers have not blocked the roads as it was not part of their protest.
“PM had said that farmers can sell crops anywhere,” he added. “If roads are open, we’ll also go to Parliament to sell our crops. First, our tractors will go to Delhi.”
Haryana government officials, including Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Rajeev Arora and police chief PK Agrawal, had visited the Tikri border with a delegation of farmers on Tuesday and found that the border had been sealed by the Delhi Police, NDTV reported.
A meeting was held between the police officials of Haryana and Delhi. After this, authorities reached an agreement and the process of removing barricades started.
Before the removal work began, Asthana had told NDTV that the “police have not closed the roads” to the national capital.
“When there was a law-and-order problem, the barricading was done in Delhi, it was necessary,” he told the news channel. “Since then, tents have been put up on the other side of the border due to which the roads are closed.”
During the hearing in Supreme Court, farmers had said that the roads were deliberately blocked to turn public sentiments against them.
The three contentious farm laws were passed by the government in September 2020, which sparked off protests by farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh that have continued to rage ever since.
The central government has claimed the new laws are aimed at making farming more profitable, but the farmers argue that they will bring about corporate dominance of the sector.
The farmers also claim that once the authority of the state marketing boards that provide a shield against exploitation collapses, private entities will dictate the price of their produce.
In January, nearly two months into the farmer protests, the Supreme Court had suspended the implementation of the farm laws.