With the border completely sealed, the alternative route is jammed 24×7
Concertina wires sandwiched between four layers of yellow barricades, a little way off, buses and trucks parked criss-cross fashion – the Delhi Police have left little to chance in their efforts to stop Uttar Pradesh farmers from crossing over into Delhi by the Ghazipur-Meerut highway.
On this February morning, the farmers stood behind the barricades – at the same spot where they have been waiting for more than two months. Most have made themselves comfortable, spreading rugs and mats on the highway where they sit and chat. The food is brought in from the langar and at noon and in the evening, they sit in rows for a simple meal.
Just five days ago, this had been the stage for high drama. Rakesh Tikait, facing a police ultimatum to vacate the highway with the rest of the farmers, had broken down in full view of cameras close to midnight.
ये यूपी दिल्ली बार्डर है। pic.twitter.com/IWJRAneoTt
— Umashankar Singh उमाशंकर सिंह (@umashankarsingh) February 1, 2021
“I’d rather face bullets than leave,” he had declared emotionally, injecting hope and passion into a movement flagging after the Republic Day tractor rally misadventure.
His dogged refusal had not only stopped farmers about to leave the site, it also acted a call to farmers deep in the hinterland, who started moving towards Delhi.
The Delhi police preparations started soon after. Power and water for the farmers were curtailed.
The broken barricades of Singhu and Ghazipur fresh in their mind, the police also planned a three-layer security. Between the barricades and criss-cross buses, the police, three-deep, stand in riot gear.
This Highway has 14 lanes – seven from Ghaziabad to Delhi which have been blocked by farmers for more than two months. But seven lanes from Delhi to Ghaziabad were open except one or two occasions, when they were jammed by agitating farmers.
On January 26, due to the tractor rally, police barricaded the Delhi to Ghaziabad side too. Now it has been fortified at the Ghazipur border (as you can see in video) as administration has apprehension that farmers may try to enter Delhi.
Every day, since, has been a nightmare for office-goers. With the border completely sealed, the alternative route is jammed 24×7 and a drive that earlier took 45 minutes, is now taking up anything between two and four hours.