Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Khattar on Tuesday announced that the state would seal its borders from November 25 to November 27, ahead of the protest march planned by farmers against the new agricultural laws, reported PTI.
“We appeal to the public that on November 25 and 26, they should avoid coming to Haryana and Punjab borders,” Khattar told reporters. “On November 26 and 27, they should avoid going to the Haryana-Delhi border. We will take every step required to maintain law and order.”
Khattar added that some farmer leaders have also been taken into custody by the state police. Earlier in the day, Swaraj India President Yogendra Yadav claimed that the Haryana Police detained about a dozen farm leaders across the state ahead of the “Delhi Chalo” movement on November 26.
The chief minister urged the farmers to call off their protests. “I appeal to farmers that the Delhi Chalo call given by some outfits has no meaning because the three laws which the Centre enacted are pro-farmer,” he said. He also promised to increase the number of mandis, and assured the farmers that the minimum support price regime will continue as usual.
The Haryana Police has issued an advisory, asking people to modify their travel plans on the given dates. Officials said strict restrictions will be imposed along the borders with Punjab for three days beginning Wednesday, November 25.
The advisory said that farmers unions and organisations have given a specific call to hold congregations at the Shambhu border in Ambala district, Mundhal Chowk in Bhiwani, Anaj Mandi at Gharaunda in Karnal, Bahadurgarh in Jhajjar, and the Rajiv Gandhi Education City in Sonipat’s Rai.
Apart from this, the main focus of the protestors will be the major national highways leading towards Delhi.
The police said that besides these points, they may also divert or block traffic at entry points from Punjab to Haryana in districts of Panchkula, Ambala, Kaithal, Jind, Fatehabad and Sirsa from November 25 to November 27.
Will take legal action against protesting farmers: Delhi Police
Meanwhile, the Delhi Police on Tuesday said that they would take legal action against the protesting farmers if they come to the city for any gathering in the middle of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Farmer organisations from UP, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Kerala & Punjab have called a march to Delhi on Nov 26 and 27,” the police tweeted. “No gathering is permitted amid coronavirus. The permission has been rejected and it was communicated well in time to the organizers. If protestors still come to Delhi, legal action will be initiated.”
ANI visuals showed police personnel checking vehicles entering from Uttar Pradesh at the Delhi-Ghazipur border on Tuesday evening, in view of the protests. “Our effort is to ensure that farmers do not enter Delhi as they do not have the permission to protest in the city,” East Delhi District Commissioner of Police Jasmeet Singh told the news agency.
The farm laws
The Parliament had passed three ordinances – Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Ordinance 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Assurance and Farm Service Ordinance 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 – in September. They were signed into laws by President Ram Nath Kovind on September 27.
Protests had erupted against the laws in many parts of the country. When two of the legislations were tabled during a chaotic session in Parliament on September 20, some Opposition MPs claimed that they would prove to be the “death warrant” for the agricultural sector.
Taken together, the three legislations loosen regulations on the sale, pricing and storage of agricultural produce. They allow farmers to sell outside mandis notified by the Agricultural Produce Market Committee. They enable contract farming through deals with private sector companies. They take food items like cereals and pulses off the list of essential commodities, lifting stock limits on such produce.
The government claims the new laws would give farmers the freedom to sell in the open market. But farmers say the laws will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce, leave farmers to the mercy of market forces and threaten food security.
Most Opposition parties and farmers’ organisations across the country have strongly opposed the bills. The Shiromani Akali Dal, one of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s oldest allies, pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance in protest against these bills.