Opposition leaders on Tuesday sharply criticised the Delhi Police’s attempts to block access to farmers’ protest sites at the borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh by digging ditches, driving nails into roads and topping concrete barricades with razor wire.
The police have also deployed massive security personnel at the three protest sites – Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri – nearly a week after thousands of protesting farmers poured in the city from various points during their tractor rally on Republic Day. The Ministry of Home Affairs has also ordered the shutdown of internet services in the three border areas since Saturday, while the Haryana government has cut off connectivity in seven districts at least until Wednesday evening.
While Congress leader Rahul Gandhi hit out at the Narendra Modi government saying that it should “build bridges, not walls”, his sister and party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra questioned whether the prime minister has waged a war against India’s farmers.
Gandhi also posted a video of the massive deployment of police and paramilitary forces at Delhi’s borders.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala questioned if this is the “new India” under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s leadership where farmers are not allowed to enter Delhi.
Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Nawab Malik also wondered if Modi was planning to start a war with the farmers. “Is Modi ji planning to start a war with the farmers of our country,” he asked in a tweet. “He should be reminded that they are our own countrymen who are fighting for their rights. If Modi ji is so keen on showing his strength, then he must question China for all its wrongdoings against our country.”
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav also took a swipe at the government’s alleged duplicity of inviting the farmers for discussions to end the stalemate over the farm laws and at the same time driving nails into roads to restrict their movement.
Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party posted pictures of the multiple barricades and barbed wire fences to compare the security arrangements at the Delhi borders with the construction undertaken by China in Arunachal Pradesh.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren said the “new India” probably does not have space for the farmers. He also shared a picture of nails on roads, saying there could not be a sadder image than this.
On Tuesday, Delhi Police Commissioner SN Shrivastava defended the new security measures at Ghazipur, Singhu and Tikri border points, citing the violence and chaos that erupted on January 26.
“Why were no questions raised at that time?” he told reporters. “What have we done now? We have just strengthened the barricades so that they are not broken again.”
The standoff over the farm laws has not been resolved despite 11 round of negotiations and the government’s offer to temporarily suspend the legislations.