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Saturday, March 25, 2023

“We can’t commute to office”: Ghazipur border residents protest against farmers’ sit-in

Several people living near the Ghazipur border at Delhi on Saturday staged a protest against the farmers’ agitation. The road near the border has remained closed due to the farmers’ protests since the last 80 days, due to which the local people are facing various problems.

The farmers have been protesting at various borders of the national capital against the three new farm laws since November 26, 2020. The farmers have been sitting at the Ghazipur border and after the violence on Republic Day, barricades have been placed by the local administration to prevent the farmers from entering Delhi.

The local residents have been forced to wait on the streets for several hours while commuting from Ghaziabad district in Uttar Pradesh to Delhi, so a group of local residents sat on a ‘dharna’ against the farmer agitation. They demanded that the protest should end soon as the people living near the border are getting tired of the continuous protests.

Some of the locals said, “What protest is this by closing the roads? We are facing trouble in commuting to office every morning.” However, the people sitting on this protest ended it after some time after they handed a memorandum to the administration and asked them to put an end to the farmers’ agitation at the earliest.

Locals at another protest site, Singhu, had protested similarly on 29 January after the violence and desecration of national flag at Red Fort during the farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day had shocked the nation. When villagers at Singhu had raised slogans and objected to the violent protestors blocking roads in their area, the ‘farmer protestors’ clashed violently with them and police. A Police officer,  SHO Pradeep Paliwal from Alipur PS, was attacked with a sword by a ‘farmer protestor’ and seriously wounded. Yet, many media outlets including news agency ANI had cast doubt whether the locals were genuine and hinted that they were RSS-BJP workers!

It is striking that even thought the issue of moving these mass protests to a designated protest site like Ramlila Grounds came up during the Supreme Court hearings on the matter last month, neither the Court nor the administration has bothered to follow through on that.

It would seem that the hardships caused to ordinary people living in the protest sites like Ghazipur, Singhu, Tikri, where the protestors have laid siege with their tractors, SUVs, modern tents, open-air kitchens and assorted paraphernalia, is not a priority for our State – little wonder actually, when the violent rioting witnessed on Republic Day is casually downplayed as a “farmers’ visit” by the Chief Justice of India. Even the Supreme Court’s appointment of an independent committee to talk to protestors was contemptuously dismissed by the union leaders, yet courts did not react.

If the farmer unions really care for all citizens rather than just their own vested interests, they could take a leaf out of the 2011 anti-corruption movement by Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare which conducted itself with grace at Ramlila grounds after getting NOC from authorities and without throwing lives of citizens into disarray.

(With IANS inputs)

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