Today’s talks ‘last chance’ for government to take a decision on the new laws, warns Lok Sangharsh Morcha
NEW DELHI—Agitating farmers blocked the National Highway-9 near the UP Gate on Thursday morning, leading to blockade and disruption of traffic from Ghaziabad to Delhi. The news came even as the fourth round of talks between representatives of the farmers and Union ministers began at Delhi’s Vigyan Bhavan and Punjab chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal held a separate meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah.
The farmers’ “Dilli Chalo” protest which began on 26 November entered the eighth day on Thursday.
The blockade was caused by the supporters of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) which is part of the ongoing protest against the controversial farm bills. The protesters had been camping under the UP Gate flyover since Saturday but did not block any roads or highways till Thursday morning.
“The farmers who were staging protest under the UP Gate flyover till now have come on highway and blocked the traffic going from Ghaziabad to Delhi. Our officers are holding talks with them to vacate the highway area. The traffic from Delhi to Ghaziabad is running normal,” Ajay Shankar Pandey, district magistrate, was quoted in the media.
NH-9 is also used by long distance travellers to travel to cities like Hapur, Moradabad and Lucknow, among others. The UP Gate flyover on NH-9 is used by thousands of commuters each day from Ghaziabad and Noida to move to Delhi. The area under the flyover is already blocked for traffic since Saturday last in wake of the protest.
Ghaziabad Traffic Police officials said that in wake of blockade of one side of the UP Gate flyover, they have asked commuters to divert to internal roads of Ghaziabad and Noida. “The protesters have blocked the highway from Ghaziabad to Delhi while the other side traffic is continuing. Officials are trying to convince farmers to vacate the highway. In the meantime, we have asked our officers to divert the traffic to the major roads of Ghaziabad and Noida so that there is no jam at the UP Gate,” said Ramanand Kushwaha, superintendent of police (traffic).
At Vigyan Bhavan, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said he was hoping for a positive outcome after the talks with farmers. The last meeting between the two sides on Tuesday had failed to break the impasse over the agricultural laws.
The Lok Sangharsh Morcha, one of the groups engaged in the protest, has said the fresh round of talks would be the “last chance” for the government to take a decision on the new laws, failing which, the farmers “movement will become huge and the government will fall”.
Meanwhile, the Punjab Chief Minister met Amit Shah at his residence in Delhi and asked Shah to find an early solution to end farmers’ protest. Amarinder Singh has also appealed to farmers to resolve the impasse over the new farm laws as it affects Punjab’s economy and security of the nation.
The crucial meeting between Singh and Shah was held ahead of the Vigyan Bhavan meeting.
– With input from agencies