New Delhi, Dec 7 : Ahead of an anticipated mega shutdown across the country in support of a clarion call by agitating farmers, senior police officers and district administration officials on Monday met with representatives of farmer unions, who have laid siege at Delhi border, to know about their plan of action for the 'Bharat Bandh' on Tuesday.
A day before the nation-wide strike, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh border at Ghazipur remained under heavy police deployment, with concrete barriers and multi-layered barricades in place as protesting farmers continue their agitation against new laws.
Even as the farmers continued their protests with high-intensity sloganeering, IPS officer Abhishek Verma and Additional District Magistrate (City) Shailendra Kumar Singh sat on a make-shift stage and tried to reason with the leaders of Bharat Kisan Union, which is spearheading the protests at the site.
Speaking to IANS, the IPS officer said: "We have not come here in their support. I and ADM (city) are here to urge the protesting farmers to remove the blockade. We want them to open the Delhi-Meerut expressway as soon as possible." Thousands of farmers have been protesting on different borders of the national capital against the three newly enacted farm laws for the last 12 days fearing a ruin of their livelihood under the new agricultural laws.
With several rounds of talks remaining inconclusive between the government and the farmers, the nationwide strike on December 8 is set to begin at 11 a.m. and will continue till 3 p.m.
"Currently the situation is calm, and we hope that it remains so tomorrow and day after," said a police officer, who is fully-geared for any eventuality and deployed behind the barricade. He did not wish to be named.
Speaking to IANS, Bharat Kisan Union Spokesperson Rakesh Tikait said that wedding procession and ambulances will be given way to ply during the strike. "There will be a strike for four hours and people who have to reach somewhere can go before or after that. No one will face any issue." Alluding to the sixth round of talks with the government on December 9, Tikait said, "We do not think that this will be the last talk between farmers and the government. We want an answers in 'yes or no' from the government and till we get that we will not budge." The Bharat Kisan Union Spokesperson, however, refused to divulge the future course of action if the talks failed to reach a conclusion in the next round of meeting on December 9.
The farmers are demanding the repeal of the three farm laws passed by parliament in the last session and have expressed apprehension that they would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.
The government has, however, maintained that the laws will provide farmers with better opportunities. It has also accused the opposition parties of "misleading" farmers.