Multiple barricades and barbed wire fences have been put up at the protest sites near Delhi's borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh as farmers continue their sit-in against the three contentious agricultural laws. Digging of trenches and nails on roads, and temporary internet suspension are part of "attacks" being organised by the government, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farmer groups, has said.
Security has been stepped at the three protest epicentres - Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri - nearly a week after the city saw unprecedented violence as farmers took out a massive tractor rally on Republic Day. "India was saddened by insult to tricolour on Republic Day," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday in his monthly radio address.
When asked about the security arrangements, Delhi Police Commissioner SN Shrivastava said: "I am surprised that when tractors were used, police were attacked, barricades were broken on January 26, no questions were raised. What did we do now? We have just strengthened barricading so that it's not broken again".
Protesters at Singhu near Delhi-Haryana border have alleged water shortage amid heightened security, and what they define as "extreme" measures. The agitation-hit area has been divided into five zones where vehicular movement is blocked.
Water tankers are not able to reach the sites of demonstration, farmers have claimed. Protesters, who have been camping on the outskirts of the national capital since late November, say they don't have water to prepare the traditional community meals - Langars - and even for everyday chores like bathing and cleaning. Frequent power cuts have added to the difficulties, they say.
In a tweet, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi hit out at the government. "Build bridges, not walls!" he wrote and posted a couple of pictures.
GOI,— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) February 2, 2021
Build bridges, not walls! pic.twitter.com/C7gXKsUJAi
Along with policemen, personnel of the Rapid Action Forces and the Central Armed Police Forces are on duty at the Delhi-UP border in Ghazipur.
"There's no problem if opposition is coming to support us but it should not be politicised. We can't do anything if leaders come. The traffic movement has not been blocked by farmers, it is because of the police barricading," Bharatiya Kisan Union's Rakesh Tikait told news agency ANI today, referring to the support offered by politicians in the last few days. Today, Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut met the demonstrators at the protest site in Ghazipur.
The standoff over the farm laws continues after 11 round of negotiations even as the government has said the offer to temporarily suspend the laws is still on table.
In a statement, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha today said: "There can be no formal talks with the government until police and administration harassment of different kinds against the farmers' movement is immediately stopped." Protesting farmers have said they want nothing less than the repeal of the three laws.
The farmers' body, which held a meeting on Monday, said "increased barricading including trench-digging, fixing nails on the roads, barbed wire fencing, closing off of even internal roads, stopping of internet services, orchestrating protests and facilitating the same through BJP-RSS workers, diversion of trains and stopping them before destination stations are all part of multiple attacks being organised by the government, its police and administration against the protesting farmers."
"It appears that the government is extremely fearful of the rising tide of support for the ongoing protest from different states of India," the statement read.
A countrywide "chakka jam" protest will be held on Saturday against the internet ban.