Scores of farmers opposing the Centre’s new farm laws performed a “havan” on a partially closed highway and offered prayers wishing “good sense” to the government as they stayed put at the Noida-Delhi border for the fourth day on Friday. The protest led to partial closure of a key road connecting Uttar Pradesh and the national capital, even as alternative routes between them bore more than usual traffic during the peak morning and evening hours.
Protesters, including some women, are camping on one carriageway of the Delhi-Noida Link Road at the Chilla border, while some are demonstrating at the nearby Dalit Prerna Sthal near the Mahamaya Flyover, according to officials. “One carriageway of the Noida-Delhi road is closed while the other side, Delhi to Noida, is open. The law and order situation is under control and commuters have been advised to take alternative routes of the DND and the Kalindi Kunj to travel to and from Delhi,” Noida Deputy Commissioner of Police Rajesh S told PTI.
Over a dozen protestors gathered on the Chilla road near the barricades in the afternoon and sat on what is a generally busy, high-speed highway leading into and out of Noida to perform a “havan”. The protestors chanted “shlokas” from the Gayatri Mantra and offered prayers encircling a ritual fire. “The havan is being done to seek ‘sadbuddhi’ (good sense) for the government,” a protestor said.
The Noida Traffic Police also issued an advisory on Thursday night, suggesting alternative routes instead of the Chilla road for hassle-free commutation, even as those routes — Delhi-Noida Direct expressway and Kalindi Kunj — witnessed more than usual traffic that led to snarls during peak morning hours on Friday. Farmers from western Uttar Pradesh districts like Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Firozabad, Kasganj, Gautam Buddh Nagar and belonging to groups like Bharatiya Kisan Union, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Bhanu) and Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lok Shakti) are protesting at the border here.
Thousands of farmers are currently staying put at Delhi’s borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in protest against the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. They have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporations.
However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.