Chandigarh- Amid escalating tensions at the Haryana-Delhi Shambu border, the situation took a tumultuous turn on Tuesday morning as the Haryana Police resorted to firing tear gas shells on protesting farmers.
The chaos unfolded when a group of youth attempted to remove barricades erected to impede the movement of farmers from Punjab towards Delhi.
The firing of at least two dozen tear gas shells instilled panic in the area, heightening the sense of uncertainty. Meanwhile, hundreds of tractor trollies have converged at the border, parked roughly 500 meters away, signalling the persistence of the farmers' determined stance.
On the night of February 12, a crucial meeting took place in Chandigarh between the government and farmers, lasting for about 6 hours. However, it ended without reaching a conclusive agreement. Disappointed farmers expressed their frustration, accusing the government of not taking their demands seriously. Despite their efforts to avoid conflict and resolve the issue through dialogue, farmers felt that the government was merely stalling and not genuinely considering their demands. Consequently, they announced plans to march towards Delhi in large numbers on February 13.
Jagjit Singh Dallewal, a prominent farmer leader, shared his perspective with The Mooknayak, emphasizing that every demand was discussed during the prolonged meeting. However, he echoed the sentiment that the government lacked sincerity in addressing their grievances. Dallewal advocated for moving the protest to Delhi, suggesting a more assertive stance in response to the government's perceived indifference.
Representing the government, ministers including Piyush Goyal, Arjun Munda, and Nityanand Rai attended the meeting with farmer leaders. Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda, addressing the media afterward, reiterated the government's commitment to resolving issues through dialogue. He highlighted the importance of forming committees to address specific concerns and find both temporary and permanent solutions. Despite these assurances, the impasse persisted, underscoring the growing frustration and distrust between the two sides.
A farmer leader who attended the meeting told The Mooknayak, "Nothing came out of our demands. Our main demands were regarding debt relief, Swami Nathan report and MSP (Minimum Support Price), we did not get them. But there was no discussion on this in the meeting by the ministers. There was no agreement with our government, tomorrow we will march towards the borders for Delhi at 10 o’clock."
Another farmer leader who attended the same meeting said, "We had three big demands and some small demands. There was no consensus on any of them. We tried to make something or the other and the government give something to the farmers, but the government did not agree to these. We have not made up our mind to accept the demands. Our march towards Delhi will continue like this. We will leave from here in the morning tomorrow (January 13) and reach Delhi by evening."
He further stated, "They had in their mind to form a committee but we said that committees have been formed many times, talk about any decision. If a law has to be made on MSP, then a committee can be formed for it but say this that Will make laws."
He emphasized, "The issue of MSP is not only of the farmers of Punjab and Haryana, it is an issue of entire India. This is the fight of the farmers of entire India. Now we will request the farmers of all the states of the country to join this movement."
Farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher criticized the meeting, stating, "The government does not have any proposal. She just wanted to take time out. We tried our best to have a long discussion with the ministers and get some decision in our favor but nothing like this happened in the meeting. If we had found something, our decision would have been different."
It's worth noting that despite the Narendra Modi government's withdrawal of the agricultural laws after a year-long agitation by the farmers, the promises made to them remain unfulfilled. Consequently, farmers have resumed their protests to press for their demands.
In an attempt to deter the farmers, the government has fortified the borders with sharp nails, cement barricades, and barbed wires in several states, including Punjab and Haryana. The Shambhu border between Punjab and Haryana has been sealed off with cement barricades and barbed wires, while the administration in Haryana has closed the bridge over the Ghaggar river and dug pits. These measures indicate the government's efforts to prevent farmers from reaching Delhi this time.