The Delhi-Jaipur highway was partially opened post 2 pm after it was blocked as farmers began a march from Shahjahanpur of Alwar district on the Rajasthan-Haryana border as part of their protest against the Centre’s contentious farm laws. The Haryana police did not allow march to the national capital resulting in the highway blockade.
The announcement by farmers’ unions to block the Jaipur-Delhi highway came amid protests by thousands for the last 17 days at the various other border points of the national capital, including Singhu and Tikri, against the laws. Farmers are demanding the Centre withdraw the legislations.
Enacted in September, the three farm laws have been projected by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country.
Farmers of several organisations reached the Haryana border near Jaisinghpur-Khera area through Behror, Kotputli and Shahjahanpur of Rajasthan.
Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj Abhiyan, social activists Aruna Roy and Medha Paatkar, and CPM leader Amra Ram also joined farmers at Shahjahanpur, where the highway was blocked.
“We are sitting on the national highway in support of the farmers agitating at Singhu border in Delhi,” Yogendra Yadav said.
“Police and administration are telling us that blocking the national highway will create trouble for people, so we have told them that we are ready to leave the highway if we are allowed to march towards Delhi. We have also apologised to the people for the inconvenience caused by the blockade,” he said.
Kisan Panchayat national president Rampal Chaudhary continued his sit-in on the highway after farmers were stopped at Haryana border on Saturday.
“Farmers of different organisations are reaching Shahjahanpur border. We just want to march towards Delhi to press for repeal of the farm laws,” Chaudhary said.
Farmer leader Amra Ram of CPM asked the union government to withdraw the farm laws. “We do not intend to block Jaipur-Delhi national highway. It’s police who are blocking it by stopping our march,” he said.
The vehicular movement on the highway was diverted through Bansur and other routes in Alwar. Vehicles are plying on the one-way lane from Delhi to Jaipur.
Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) chief and MP Hanuman Beniwal also has plans to march towards Delhi. He organised a ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ in Kotputli on Saturday, where he accused the Congress and BJP of being two sides of the same coin and urged the Narendra Modi government to repeal the farm laws. The RLP is an ally of the BJP and part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
“PM Narendra Modi has a big heart, so he should withdraw farm laws in the interest of farmers. It is a do-or- die situation for farmers who are united,” Beniwal said.
He urged the union government to implement Swaminathan Commission’s report for farmers’ benefit.
The Rajasthan police have scaled up security in view of the farmer agitation. Bhiwadi SP Ram Murti Joshi said, “Police have made all arrangements to maintain law and order in view of the farmers’ agitation.”