The farmers' protests near Delhi entered the 16th day on Friday with thousands of farmers have been protesting at various border points seeking a repeal of the new Agri laws, which they claim were aimed at benefitting corporates by weakening the mandi system and the minimum support price (MSP) regime for procurement of farm produce. Farmers from different states have been camping at Delhi's Singhu, Tikri, Ghazipur and Chilla (Delhi-Noida) border points for nearly two weeks now to demand a repeal of the farm laws enacted in September.
Here are the live updates from the 16th day of farmers' protests:
Two senior Delhi Police officers heading security arrangements at Singhu border where thousands of farmers have been camping for two weeks have tested positive for COVID-19, an officer said on Friday. Both the DCP-rank officers are in isolation, he said. "Two senior police officers deployed at Singhu border tested positive for coronavirus a few days ago. Both of them are currently in isolation," a senior police officer said.
With thousands of farmers protesting against the Centre's new Agri laws staying put at Delhi borders, several routes in the national capital remained off bounds for commuters on Friday. The Delhi Traffic Police took to Twitter to inform people about road closures and advised them to take alternative routes to avoid inconvenience. In a series of tweets, the Delhi Traffic Police said Tikri and Dhansa borders are closed for traffic movement, while Jhatikara border is open only for two-wheelers and pedestrians. Those travelling to neighbouring Haryana can take routes via Jharoda (only single carriageway), Daurala, Kapashera, Badusarai, Rajokri NH 8, Bijwasan/Bajghera, Palam Vihar and Dundahera borders, the police said.
Traffic alert : Available Open Borders to Haryana are following Borders*Jharoda (Only Single Carriageway/Road), Daurala, Kapashera, Badusarai, Rajokri NH 8, Bijwasan/Bajghera, Palam Vihar and Dundahera Borders* @dtptraffic@DelhiPolice
Farmers agitating for the past two weeks against the new Agri laws on Thursday announced that they will block railway tracks if their demands are not met by the government. Farmer unions, which held a meeting on Thursday, said they will soon announce a date for blocking tracks across the country. Addressing reporters at the Singhu border where they have been protesting for almost two weeks to demand a rollback of the laws, the farmer unions also reiterated that they will intensify their agitation and start blocking all highways leading to the national capital.
"We will block railway tracks if our demands are not met. We will decide on the date and announce it soon. The blocking of tracks will not be limited to Haryana and Punjab but it will be done across the country," farmer leader Boota Singh said at the press conference.
The announcement by farmers came on a day Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said it was not proper to announce the next stage of agitation when talks were continuing and urged the unions to return to the discussion table. Tomar also urged farmer union leaders to consider proposals sent to them to break the deadlock over protests and said the government is ready for further discussions with them any time.
"Centre has admitted that laws have been made for traders. If agriculture is a state subject, the central government does not have the right to make laws on it," said Balbir Singh Rajewal, another leader.
The government had on Wednesday proposed to give a "written assurance" that the existing MSP regime for procurement will continue. However, the farmers' unions rejected the proposal and said they would intensify their agitation until the government accepts their demand for a complete repeal of the three laws. The government has also proposed to make necessary amendments on at least seven issues, including one to allay fears about the weakening of the mandi system.