PTC News Desk: As thousands of farmers gear up for a planned march to Delhi on Tuesday, the Haryana government has taken precautionary measures by converting two major stadiums into makeshift jails. The Chaudhary Dalbir Singh Indoor Stadium in Sirsa and Guru Gobind Singh Stadium in Dabwali will serve as temporary detention centers for farmers in case of any untoward incidents during their march, according to sources.
The decision to establish these temporary jails aims to handle situations where a large number of farmers might be detained or arrested. Authorities in Delhi have also fortified the borders with concrete blocks and deployed road spikes, barbed wires, and thousands of police personnel along the interstate border to prevent farmers from entering the national capital. While the Centre has invited farmer unions for discussions on February 12 to address their demands, the preemptive measures taken to block the borders have faced criticism from opposition parties and farmer groups. The restrictions have been defended by authorities in Haryana and Delhi, citing concerns raised during the 2020 protests against the now-repealed three farm laws.
The planned protest, organized by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha and several farmer associations primarily from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Punjab, seeks to press the Centre to address various demands, including the enactment of a law to guarantee a minimum support price (MSP) for crops. Opposition leaders, including Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, have criticized the restrictions, likening the situation to the India-Pakistan Line of Control (LoC). They have urged the Centre to engage in dialogue with farmers and address their legitimate concerns.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has also condemned the road blockades, questioning the government's motives and emphasizing the importance of democratic rights. Meanwhile, Haryana has sealed its border with Punjab at Shambhu near Ambala and implemented extensive arrangements in Jind and Fatehabad districts to prevent the march. Additionally, mobile internet services and bulk SMS have been suspended in seven districts from February 11 to 13 as a precautionary measure.
The memories of the 2020 protests, where farmers from Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh held a year-long sit-in on Delhi's border points against the contentious farm laws, continue to loom large as tensions rise ahead of the anticipated farmers' march.
(Inputs from agencies)