As thousands of farmers converged on the periphery of the national capital, protesting against the recent farm legislations, the administration allowed them to enter the city limits and diverted them to a protest site at Burari, on the outskirts; thus an immediate face-off was avoided.
The Delhi administration had little choice in the matter: what happened at the Singhu border earlier in the day had them on an edge. Utter chaos was witnessed at the entry point with farmers, many of them wrapped in barbed wire, cocking a snook at the barricades and digging up trenches. Multiple rounds of tear gas shells failed to scatter them.
The farmers are reportedly travelling with tractors and trucks carrying enough supplies for six months, prepared for a long haul in their fight against farm laws.
There were reports that the Delhi Police, which reports to the centre, has sought permission to convert nine stadiums into temporary jails for arrested farmers. The AAP government in Delhi, however, denied the permission.
After the farmers were allowed entry into Delhi, only to be diverted to the Nirankari ground at Burari, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh welcomed the Centre’s decision underlining that the government should also now initiate immediate talks to address their concerns. Thus far the Agriculture Minister Tomar has taken the line that he has already invited them for discussion on December 3.
The government cannot be smug in the belief that the situation has been defused; rather, overnight the farmers will be able to regroup and strategize; the leaders of the farmer unions will meet on Saturday at 8 am and decide if the protest will be carried out at Burari or elsewhere.
The Haryana government has, meanwhile, reopened all state borders with Punjab. The borders were earlier sealed. In another development, the Bharatiya Kisan Union, which wields influence in western Uttar Pradesh, has also given a ‘Dilli Chalo’ call to farmers in the region -- Meerut, Muzaffarnagar and Baghpat. Hundreds of farmers have already started their march.
SOCIAL MEDIA HERO FACES MURDER BID CHARGE: Meanwhile, a young man from Ambala, who was seen scaling a police water cannon to turn it off in one of the most iconic moments of the protest march, has been charged with attempt to murder. Hailed as a hero on social media after the video was widely shared, 26-year-old Navdeep Singh had climbed the blue water cannon vehicle showering protesting farmers in the middle of a north Indian cold wave on Wednesday as they braved brutish attempts to block their march.