Noida/New Delhi: Hundreds of farmers from Uttar Pradesh, marching to Kisan Ghat in the national capital for payment of sugarcane dues, loan waivers and cheap electricity, were stopped at the Delhi-UP border on Saturday while a delegation was allowed to meet officials at the Krishi Bhavan.
The farmers, protesting under the banner of Bharatiya Kisan Sangathan, squatted on roads as Uttar Pradesh authorities put up barricades on NH-9 and NH-24 and diverted traffic heading towards Delhi. A large number of security and para-military and fire brigade personnel were deployed apart from ambulances stationed in the area.
The farmers started their march from Saharanpur on September 11. On reaching Noida on Friday, they held talks with government representatives but failed to resolve the issues. They want to march to Kisan Ghat, the memorial of former prime minister and farmers' leader Chaudhary Charan Singh.
"Traffic is obstructed on both carriageways from Ghazipur Border UP Gate on NH-9, NH-24 towards Nizamuddin due to the rally," the Delhi Traffic Police said in the morning. Alok Kumar, Joint Commissioner of Police (Easter Range), said in the afternoon that the protestors have been stopped at Delhi-UP border but the traffic situation was normal.
"One delegation has gone to meet officials in the national capital," Kumar said.
The farmers have 15 demands, including cheap electricity for irrigation and waiving of loans. They also demand the implementation of Swaminathan Committee's recommendations. "We have 15 demands which government needs to consider. We started our march from Saharanpur on September 11 and have reached Delhi-UP border on Saturday. There are around 2,000 farmers who have come from different states," said Gurpreet Singh, a 24-year-old student and farmer from Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh.
Ram Kumar, 43, has come from Muzaffarnagar. He said they have been sitting at the UP-Delhi border since 10 am.
"We are demanding the state and central governments to give free electricity for irrigation, farmers must be paid the price of sugarcane along with interest on time. Farmers and labourers must receive a pension of Rs 5,000 a month after the age of 60, there must be a high court and AIIMS in western Uttar Pradesh," Kumar said.
He said the delegation meeting officials at Krishi Bhavan comprises 11 people.
"If they accept our demands, we will discontinue our protest immediately," Kumar said.
Many young people have joined their family members in the protest.
"We are from the family of farmers and spent most of the time, besides school, in the field. We want to study further and must get free education and health facilities and people who do not have jobs, the government should help them get employment," said Arun Kumar, a college student who accompanied his father from Muzaffarnagar to the protest.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Saturday asked the BJP why are they preventing peasants from coming to Delhi to raise their demands.
"What is the reason that farmers are being prevented from coming to Delhi and raising their demands? The BJP government, in its campaigns, talks about welfare of farmers. But when farmers of Uttar Pradesh say they want sugarcane arrears, loan waiver and cut in electricity prices, why are they not allowed to speak?" she said in a tweet.
Priyanaka Gandhi was referring to farmers on their way from Uttar Pradesh to Kisan Ghat in Delhi on Saturday demanding pending sugarcane dues, loan waivers and cheap electricity, among others.