Jovan Preet Singh and Gurinder Jeet each put two pyjamas, a mobile phone charger and a water bottle in their small backpacks before hitting the road to Delhi on their bicycles to join the protesting farmers at the national capital's borders. "The police won't allow tractors to go past the barricades. But cycles can go through," Jovan Preet said. The duo, aged 24 and 26, set out on their cycles from Barnala in Punjab two days ago, thinking it was a better option to overcome police blockades and traffic jams around the protest sites.
"There was no need to carry food or anything else. We have just two pyjamas, a mobile phone charger and a water bottle each in our backpacks. We travelled around 300 kilometres and spent two nights in tractor trolleys queuing up along the roads. They gave us food… there is no dearth of it," Gurinder Jeet said. He said they plan to visit all the borders points, including Tikri, Chilla and Ghazipur, where the farmers have been protesting.
"Farmers don't want the three new laws. The government should reduce power tarrif and waive our loans instead," the placards dangling from the handle of their cycles read. Gurinder Jeet said many more people have set out on cycles after meeting them on the road.
Thousands of farmers protesting the Centre's new farm laws stayed put at the borders of Delhi with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, blocking key routes leading to the national capital that led to long traffic jams. Talks between the government and protesting farmers remained inconclusive on Saturday even after five rounds of discussions as union leaders stuck to their demand for the repeal of the new farm laws and went on a 'maun vrat' seeking a clear 'yes or no' reply, forcing the Centre to call for another meeting on December 9 to resolve the deadlock.
After more than four hours of discussions with three union ministers and senior officials, farmer leaders said the government sought more time for internal consultations to present a final proposal in the next meeting to resolve the issue. The agitating farmers had on Friday announced a 'Bharat bandh' on December 8 and threatened to intensify their agitation and block more roads leading to the national capital if the government did not accept their demands.
As farmers remained unyielding on their demand for scrapping the new farm laws, the police kept the Delhi-Haryana border at Singhu, Tikri, Jharoda Lampur, Auchandi, Safiabad, Piao Maniyari, and Saboli closed for traffic movement. It said the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border at Chilla and Ghazipur were also shut.