Barricades rise at UP Gate site, farmers decide the future
On Friday, commuters continued to face traffic jams on the Ghaziabad-Delhi causeway of the Delhi-Meerut highway, even after Delhi police began removing heavy barricades from the UP gate on the same day, where farmers have been protesting against the three controversial farm laws since November. 2020.
After the development, the farmer heads did not commit to leaving the roads near the UP gate or not, and said their coordinating body – Samyukta Kisan Morcha – would take an appeal about it.
The UP Gate protest site has been occupied by farmers who have been protesting for almost 11 months now, as they have been calling for the cancellation of the three farm laws since November of last year. They camped on the tracks of the Ghaziabad-Delhi causeway, underpass area of the UP Gate Bridge, with their temporary tents lined up to the Khora settlement of Noida.
On October 21, 2021, some farmers removed a temporary tent under the UP-Gate Bridge and claimed Delhi police were blocking the road, not farmers. In the next move, Delhi police began removing heavy barricades using reinforced concrete boulders, iron spikes and barbed wire.
In a statement issued on Friday evening, Samyukta Kisan Morcha reiterated its position on the blockades and said “the farmers’ position is justified”. “It was the police who barricaded and blocked the roads, not the farmers, and this is something farmers have also explained in the past. Protesters have also had traffic movements in the past and will continue to do the same. We are talking about the protest site near the Tikri border and the Ghazipur border (UP Gate), ”he said.
“The police fortified the morcha sites by placing huge cement boulders, several layers of metal barricades, sand trucks and several layers of nails on the roads. In the latest account they are trying to give a turn, the partial removal of these barricades is underway, ostensibly to impress the Supreme Court of India, ”he added.
The UP Gate site is one of many sites, including the various borders of Delhi, where farmers have camped to protest against farm laws.
On October 21 this year, the Supreme Court ruled that farmers have the right to protest, but cannot block roads indefinitely. The court heard a petition filed by a resident of Noida, who urged protesters to move away from the roads in the National Capital Region (NCR) because “their unrest has an impact on daily commuting.”
The court also gave farmers unions three weeks to file their response, and set the next hearing date for December 7 this year.
“At the end of the day, you have to find a solution. We are not opposed to their right to protest even when a legal challenge is pending, but the roads cannot be blocked, ”the court said.
In the middle of the scenario, commuters feel they are suffering the most because travel on the DME has not yet resumed. “The situation on the ground remains the same as at the UP gate because the road is still not open for daily trips because the farmers are camping there. The courts must look into this and come to the aid of the citizens. Due to the situation at the UP gate, thousands of commuters pass through Kaushambi and local residents are affected by traffic jams and pollution. It seems that resuming travel via these routes will take longer, ”said VK Mittal, President of Kaushambi Apartments RWA.
The DME section including the UP gate sees the movement of around 60,000 passenger car units per day, and it is also a key area for the diversion of traffic bound for Ghaziabad to various localities, such as Vaishali, Kaushambi, Indirapuram and Sahibabad. “Commuters have been suffering for almost 11 months, and there is absolutely no respite for the thousands of them who use the UP Gate route. The situation at the UP gate also shows how easy it is to block the freeway for 11 months and escape so easily. With farmers occupying the area, removing the barricades will not solve the goal. The highway was built for commuters and it should only be open to commuters, ”said Alok Kumar, founding member of the Federation of Apartment Owners Associations.
Meanwhile, police in Ghaziabad have also erected barricades near Indirapuram and Pratap Vihar, and traffic is diverted to Noida sector 62. The stretch from Pratap Vihar to the UP gate is about 10 kilometers and n is not open to commuters. “The barricades were erected so that commuters would not reach the UP gate where the farmers are camping. This can cause public order problems. Travel will only resume if the supervisors leave the site. For this, our officials are in contact with the peasant leaders, ”said Ramanand Kushawaha, police commissioner (Ghaziabad traffic police).
Farmer heads said they were occupying the road because Delhi police had erected barricades there.
“The Samyukta Kisan Morcha will take a call on the removal of the barricades by the Delhi police. The dismantling of the barricades shows that it was the police who blocked the highway and not the farmers, ”said Jagtar Singh Bajwa, spokesperson for the UP Gate site in Samyukta Kisan Morcha.
Senior Delhi Police officials, who reached the UP Gate site on Friday, said it was their first move since the protest began. “We want motorway travel to resume. We are in contact with the protesting farmers and we will ask them to ensure that the way is open for commuters. We started removing the barricades from there, ”Delhi’s special police (law and order) commissioner Deepandra Pathak told reporters at the UP gate on Friday.