Clashes broke out between Bharatiya Janata Party workers and farm law protestors in Ghazipur at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border on Wednesday, PTI reported.
The BJP workers carried out a procession on the Delhi-Meerut Expressway to meet local politician Amit Valmiki around noon, according to reports. Farmers have occupied the highway since last November. The farmers reportedly objected to the BJP workers gathering there with party flags, NDTV reported.
The farmers then waved black flags at the BJP men, which set off a scuffle. Stones were pelted and members from both sides fought with sticks, while the BJP leader’s vehicle was also reportedly damaged.
After the altercation, the BJP leaders also held a protest near a local police station demanding that the farmers are removed from the highway.
Last year, farmers stormed into the bordering areas of the capital between November 25 and 26 braving barricades, batons and tear gas, to protest against the farming legislature they dubbed as “black laws”. Since then, thousands of them have settled down with their tractors and trolleys at Singhu and Tikri areas bordering Haryana and at Ghazipur bordering Uttar Pradesh.
Farmer leaders alleged that this altercation was yet another conspiracy by the government to quell their protest. “They [BJP workers] misbehaved with farmers and themselves damaged their vehicles as part of a conspiracy,” Samyukta Kisan Morcha Spokesperson Jagtar Singh Bajwa told PTI. “This conspiracy of the government is not going to succeed because such tactics to end the farmers’ protest have been used in the past too.”
“We are going to lodge a complaint with the police over today’s incident, and if no action is taken, we shall plan our future strategy accordingly,” he added. “We condemn the ruckus created by the BJP workers.”
Bharatiya Kisan Union Spokesperson Rakesh Tikait also said that they would file a police complaint, according to ANI.
“For the past three days a few people with BJP flags have been coming over here [Ghazipur border],” he told the news agency. “They want to start violence. Today they went to the stage where sloganeering happens and started pelting stones. They were hurling abuses; many got injured from our side too.”
The farm laws protest
Thousands of farmers have camped outside Delhi since November, demanding that the government repeal the three laws that open up the country’s agriculture markets to private companies. The farmers have hunkered down with supplies that they say will last them for months, and have resolved to not leave until their demands are met.
The farmers fear the policies will make them vulnerable to corporate exploitation and would dismantle the minimum support price regime. The government, however, continues to claim that the three legislations are pro-farmer.
In January, nearly two months into the protest movement, the Supreme Court suspended the implementation of the farm laws. It instead set up a committee and tasked it to consult stakeholders and assess the impact of the laws.
Talks between farmers groups and the central government to resolve the protests came to a complete deadlock after farmers rejected the Centre’s offer to suspend the laws for two years. The last time both sides met was on January 22. Since then, most farmer leaders have said they were willing to speak to the government again.