Workers under the watch of police personnel on Monday hooked iron rods between two rows of cement barriers on a flank of the main highway at the Singhu border to further restrict the movement of protesters agitating against the new farm laws at the site. Another portion of the highway at the Delhi-Haryana border is practically blocked now as a makeshift cement wall has come up there. A worker, drilling rods in cross-formation between two rows of solid barriers in the afternoon, said, “The other flank was done yesterday. Cement is to be poured in the space between the barriers on this flank to make a makeshift wall”.
The move comes days after the violent clashes between some protesters and police on January 26 during the tractor parade by the agitating farmers.
The section of the highway at the Singhu border, which has been the epicenter of the farmers’ protests for over 60 days, had also seen a clash recently between farmers and a group of people who claimed to be local residents.
On Monday, the Delhi side of the Singhu border saw a sparse crowd of protesters while the Haryana side was dominated by vociferous speeches denouncing the new farm laws and clarion calls to infuse a new sense of solidarity in the agitation after the Republic Day incident.
Security personnel from the paramilitary forces, RAF and CRPF, were seen in relatively fewer numbers compared to the past few days but police personnel manned the stretch spanking a mile from the protest site.
Besides the makeshift wall on the highway, a small trench was also dug up earlier across an inner street a little off the highway and cement barricades put up on both sides.
The protesting farmers and leaders at a tent, however, showed no signs of being cowed down and asserted that “these barricades put up around us can’t cage our spirit”.
All of them alleged that on January 26, “a conspiracy was made to malign this movement” and “defame it”, and more such attempts are being made while asserting that the agitation has “come out stronger” now.
Jashandeep Singh, 28, a resident of Mohali, who left his private job, and wife and one-year-old daughter behind in his hometown, to join the movement at Singhu Border, from its early days, said, “We are not retreating an inch”.
“If they think, we will get intimidated by these force tactics, then they are mistaken. We are warriors, and our fight is for everyone, and for the future generations of this country. And, they may make cement walls, but no wall is high for our free spirit. This movement is not a flood that can be checked with a dam. It’s a tsunami, no walls can stop it,” he said.
In the evening, cement was poured into a section of the double-sided solid barricade, even as a group of youth from the families of farmers, stood huddled around right next to the barricade on the other side.
“They are making a wall to stop the farmers, and that too with the taxpayers’ money. Is the media listening,” screamed one of the youths from the crowd as police officials and personnel watched from the Delhi side of the border.
Earlier in the day, Balwinder Singh Sirsa, a farmer leader from Sirsa, Haryana, while addressing farmers, exhorted them to not get demotivated by what happened on January 26 as it was “orchestrated by some people to denigrate the movement”.
A woman protester from Haryana, addressing a huge gathering from the dais, said the alleged conspiracy on that day has “failed to weaken this movement” and has rather injected “a new lease of life” in it.
Randhir Singh, 85, a farmer from Haryana, also addressed the gathering saying “I have worked with legends Mahendra Singh Tikait and I know how Jat movement was weakened few years ago”.
“What happened on January 26 was a conspiracy. It was not done by farmers but all was part of a smear campaign bring run to defame the movement,” he alleged.
“We are not terrorists or Khalistani. We are fighting for our rights. Attempts are still being made to defame and weaken us. But Tikait’s tears have awakened the farmers of Haryana, UP, and other states,” he said.