'Delhi Chalo': Protesting Farmers Combating Drones with Kites, Tennis Balls and Wet Jute Sacks

The peasants, who want to march towards New Delhi with their demands, have been stopped at Shambhu border in Haryana's Ambala and are being tear gassed with the help of drones.
The farmers flew kites and tried bring the drones down.
The farmers flew kites and tried bring the drones down.Source: Screen grab

Ambala/New Delhi: In an effort to counter drone tear gassing of protesting farmers at Ambala's Shambhu border, the peasants have come up with a new idea. They are using kites, tennis balls and wet sacks to combat the drones and the gas that causes a stinging sensation and tears.

Thousands of peasants are gathered at the Punjab-Haryana border and trying hard to march towards New Delhi to press the Central government to address its "unfulfilled" promises (such as a legal guarantee for minimum support prices or MSP, pension benefits, among others).

Apparantly determined not to let the agitators rush to the national capital, the Haryana Police has put up several layer of barricades: piling of stone boulders, barbed wire fencing, erection of iron spikes, along with iron barricades and concrete barriers.

After from firing tear gas shells, using shot guns, the state police is also using drones to rain spray it on the agitators. But on February 14, the second day of the 'Delhi Chalo' march, the farmers - using the ocassion of the Basant Panchmi - flew kites and tried bring the drones down.

The festival is observed on the fifth day of late January and early February by Hindus and Sikhs. It's a time for families to gather together and spend the day, flying kites.

They said they had thrown stones to target the flying drones but failed in their attempt on February 13 (the first day of the agitation) as they themselves were getting hurt with the falling stones.

In addition to kites, they are now using tennis balls to target the drones.

With an aim to diffuse the tear gas shells, which are constantly being lobbed on them from from both surface and air for the past two days to prevent them from breaching the barricades and moving ahead, many farmers were seen covering the gas-emitting shells with water soaked jute bags.

This - according to them - diffuse the shells and prevent it from emitting the smoke.

The police supported by reserved forces have been continuously resorting to tear gas shelling, batton charge and water cannons to restrict the agitating peasants at the border and push them back. 

In addition to kites, farmers are now using tennis balls to target the drones.
In addition to kites, farmers are now using tennis balls to target the drones.Source: Screen grab

"The government is treating us like terrorists or criminals. It has created a war-like situation. If it wants to indulge in guerrilla warfare tactics, let us try this as well. But we won't go back. We are farmers; when we can make barren land fertile, we can overcome any obstacle," the protesters told The Mooknayak.

They said the citizens of this country, which gives them the right to protest and travel wherever they want. 

"Why are we being stopped - just because the government does not wants us in Delhi, raising our legitimate demands?" they asked and asserted that they would go to the city and lay a siege the their "unfulfilled" demands are not met.

In this police action, hundreds of farmers, said the protesters, have suffered injuries - with a few of them having been rushed to hospitals in "serious conditions".

The situation turned ugly after the farmers began the march following their late night meeting with three Union ministers (Piyush Goyal, Arjun Munda and Nityanand Rai) failed to reach a consensus on February 12.

They are demanding a law that guarantees them MSP for all their crops across the country. Presently, 23-24 crops are procured on MSP - including wheat and paddy.

The farmers say that the government, following their 13-month siege at Delhi borders in 2020-21 against now scrapped three agricultural laws, had assured them of a legal guarantee for MSP but failed to walk the talk. They describe it as a "betrayal" on part of the incumbents.

They also want a pension of Rs 10,000 for all farmers above the age of 60. Their charter of demands includes loan waiver for farmers throughout the nation.

They demand that the cases lodged against during the previous be withdrawn as promised. They are seeking justice for the victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, which was a vehicle ramming attack on the protesting farmers.

Occured on October 3, 2021, six farmers were crushed to death at Banbirpur village near Tikunia in Lakhimpur Kheri by SUVs - one of which allegedly belonged to Union minister Ajay Mishra 'Teni' and reportedly being driven by his son.

What's Happening at Delhi's Singhu Border?

The police during the previous protest had failed to stop the marching farmers in Punjab and Haryana. As a result, they reached the Singhu border in the city and laid a siege that lasted over a year. Taking lessons from their failure in the past, the cops made all possible arrangements to prevent the farmers from marching ahead. 

A confident Haryana Police has claimed that the protesting farmers will not be allowed to cross the Shambhu border. If they somehow manage to breach the barricades and enter the state to head towards Delhi, it says, they will be stopped at Panipat and Sonipat where the cops are already deployed with full preparations.  The police in the two districts, claim officials, have finalised their strategy to deal with any such situation if arises. Barricading will also be done at Patti Kalyana village in Panipat to further strengthen security forces.

Sonipat Police Commissioner Satish Balan said the farmers are presently restricted to Shambhu border. "The police have succeeded in stopping them there. But by any chance, if they still manage to go ahead, Sonipat and Panipat police will block them at Patti Kalyana," he said, adding that five companies of the central reserve forces will be deployed here.

He said three companies have already reached Sonipat to be deployed at every possible entry points.

Back at Singhu border in the national capital, the entire area leading to the city has already been sealed with iron barricades, concertina wires, cement barriers, concrete slabs made between the barriers and empty containers. Trenches have been dug up by the side of the roads.

Senior officers of the Delhi are regularly taking stock of the situation. CCTV cameras have been installed at every nook and corner of the area to moniter every activity. In addition, drones are also being used to keep an aerial vigil.

Vehicles from Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana enter Delhi through the Singhu border. It's an extremely busy area.

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