For over two weeks now, farmers from various parts of India have converged in and around the national capital, protesting against three recently passed Farm Acts. With multiple rounds of talks with the Centre having yielded no results, they have now announced their intention to intensify the protests, blocking highways and railway tracks and more.
While the government insists that the door continues to be open for talks, the agitating farmers recently announced that they would intensify their agitation by blocking the Jaipur-Delhi and the Delhi-Agra expressways by Saturday, and escalating it to a nationwide protest on December 14. They also said that they would make toll booths 'free'.
With the protests now in their 17th day, here are the latest updates on the developing agitation:
1. Hundreds of additional farmers on their way to Delhi
With talks and protests having yielded no concrete results thus far, a call has been given for nationwide protests. As such, hundreds are on their way to join the other protesters along Delhi's borders. Visuals and information shared by new agency ANI show that members of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangarsh Committee and other organisations making their way to the national capital.
"Around 700 tractor trolleys are moving towards Delhi's Kundli border," SS Pandher, Kisan Mazdoor Sangarsh Committee was quoted as saying yesterday. Since then, visuals have also been shared from different areas showing the influx of supporters. Photos from Kurukshetra on Saturday morning showing a long line of tractors heading towards Delhi.
2. Tolls closed
On December 9, the union leaders had said that a new 'Delhi chalo' ' call is being given to all farmers in the north India for December 14. To this end, all toll plazas across the country will be made toll-free on December 12, they had added.
The freeing of tolls has already taken place in some areas, even as officials in other areas assure that they have received no inputs about the possibility.
Protesting farmers had closed the Shambhu Toll Plaza in Ambala early on December 12. "This toll has been free since 12 am last night. Some farmers had come and it has been done for their agitation. We haven't received any order yet as to how long this will continue but farmers are saying that this will remain free till 12 am tonight," news agency ANI quoted the toll plaza in-charge as saying.
In Agra however, officials said that normal vehicular traffic was flowing through functional toll plazas in the district.
3. Roads closed, commuters affected
Amid the prevailing deadlock between farmers and the Central government over the new farm laws, the Delhi Traffic Police has been tweeting about road closures in view of a large number of farmers camping at Delhi's borders.
4. Heavy police deployment
Thousands of police officials have been deployed to deal with any possible crisis. Barricades have been set up, and in many areas, officials will be checking commercial vehicles and state transport buses.
Heavy police deployment was seen at the Delhi-Gurugram border areas at Bilaspur, Panchgaon, Kherki Daula toll, Dundahera-Delhi border and National Highway-48. The Gurugram police department has claimed they have deployed more than 2,000 police force at various points along NH-48 to ensure law and order and no disruption to traffic movement.
In a statement the Faridabad police said that as many as 3,500 police personnel will be deployed at the five toll plazas in the area.
5. BJP ally joins protests
The Rashtriya Loktantrik Party appears to be supporting the cause of the farmers, and party founder and Nagaur MP Hanuman Beniwal is now undertaking a demonstration march towards Delhi, protesting the farm laws
"Thousands of farmers will meet in Kothputli and then decide the further course of action. Govt should work to raise the MSP and also listen to farmers," he was quoted as saying.
(With inputs from agencies)