For over two months, thousands of farmers had remained gathered at Delhi's borders protesting against three contentious laws. The agitation however took a violent turn recently as many of the protesters clashed with police and indulged in vandalism while taking out a tractor rally.
In the aftermath of the Republic Day rally however, things have fast moved out of hand. The police have filed cases against many of the farm leaders as well as those seen involved in the violence and vandalism, and Uttar Pradesh has begun urging protesters camped out at the Ghazipur border to vacate their protest site by Thursday night.
The farmers however have refused to heed the instruction thus far. While officials had warned that they would be removed by force if they did not leave at the end of Thursday, it has not materialised thus far. "We do not accept the notices given by the government. No returning back to the homes until and unless the laws are taken back. We are protesting here peacefully," a farmer from Rampur district was quoted as saying by news agency ANI on Friday morning.
According to updates shared by the Delhi Traffic Police, the Ghazipur border is closed. "Traffic diverted from NH-24, NH 9, Road no 56, 57 A, Kondli, Paper market, Telco T point, EDM Mall, Akshardham and Nizamuddin Khatta flyover. Traffic is very heavy in the areas including Vikas marg," the department said.
There are thousands of police officials converging at the border. According to reports, three companies of the Central Armed Police Forces as well as six companies of the Provincial Armed Constabulary and around a thousand police officials had been deployed at the border. And an added incentive to vacate, the administration had reportedly cut off power and water supply for hundreds of protesters.
But even as UP did its best to shift the protesters out, Delhi rallied behind them. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal spoke to Bharatiya Kisan Union's national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait who told him that the water supply to the UP Gate protest site in Ghaziabad had been cut. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia tweeted on Friday morning that the Delhi administration had made all relevant arrangements during the night.
"Rakesh Tikait, had requested CM Arvind Kejriwal to arrange water and other basic facilities for farmers. Arrangements had been made overnight as per the direction of the CM. I will go to the border this morning to inspect the arrangements," Sisodia tweeted.
But it is not just the AAP that has rallied behind the protestors today. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav took to Twitter with an assurance that "SP is with the farmers" and Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Jayant Chaudhary travelled to the Ghazipur border to take stock of the situation and meet with Rakesh Tikait and other farmers.