Roadblocks placed by the Delhi Police at the farmers’ protest at Delhi’s Tikri border were being moved on Thursday, videos showed, amid a Supreme Court hearing that has highlighted how traffic in the area had been stopped by authorities and not the demonstrators.
The police had placed elaborate barricades on the roads, complete with giant nails and huge concrete blocks, when farmers converged on various border crossing points around the capital last November to protest three agricultural laws cleared by the central government.
Supporters of the government had targeted the farmers for the protest, saying it was inconveniencing thousands of commuters. Last week, the Supreme Court said farmers have the right to agitate but they cannot block roads indefinitely. The farmers, however, have told the court that it was the police who had put up the barricades.
On Tuesday, senior officials from Haryana, including Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Rajeev Arora and police chief PK Agrawal, visited the border along with a delegation of farmers and also found that the border had been sealed by the Delhi Police.
A meeting called between authorities from Haryana and the Delhi Police, which reports to the central government – both controlled by the BJP – finally resulted in an agreement which has now led to the barricades being cleared by earthmovers and bulldozers.
However, it may take a few days for the roads to be opened completely and barricades placed near the stage set up by the protesting farmers are yet to be removed.
The removal of the barricades came hours after Delhi Police chief Rakesh Asthana in an interview to NDTV claimed the police “have not closed the roads” to the national capital and it was the protesting farmers who have put up tents at the border which are blocking the routes.
“We have not closed the road to Delhi. When there was a law-and-order problem, the barricading was done in Delhi, it was necessary. Since then, tents have been put up on the other side of the border due to which the roads are closed,” he said.
A large number of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at the Delhi borders since November 26 last year, demanding the repeal of the three new farm laws.