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Farmers' march: Punjab-Haryana border sealed at many places, prohibitory orders in 15 districts

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NewsDrum Desk
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Chandigarh, Feb 11 (PTI) The Haryana authorities sealed the state's border with Punjab at many places in Ambala, Jind and Fatehabad districts with concrete blocks, road spike barriers and barbed wires to thwart a proposed march to Delhi by farmers on February 13.

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The Haryana government also imposed Section 144 of the CrPC, which prohibits assembly of five or more people, in 15 districts, banning any kind of demonstration or march in tractor-trolleys.

The Chandigarh administration also imposed Section 144 in the city for a period of 60 days in the view of the proposed march.

The Haryana government's massive arrangements drew a sharp reaction from Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, who asked the Manohar Lal Khattar government not to "create a border between India and Punjab".

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Mann also said the Khattar government has placed as much barbed wires at the state's borders with Punjab as is there at the country's border with Pakistan.

However, Khattar justified the steps taken by his government to seal the state's borders and stop Punjab farmers from marching towards the national capital, saying the arrangements are aimed at maintaining law and order.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha have announced that more than 200 farm unions will march to Delhi on February 13 to press the Centre to accept several demands, including the enactment of a law to guarantee a minimum support price (MSP) for crops.

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At the Shambhu border near Ambala, the authorities placed concrete blocks, sandbags, barbed wires and anti-riot vehicles on the road.

Iron sheets have been installed along the two sides of the road on the Ghaggar flyover to prevent protesters from throwing police barricades off it. Water cannons and Vajra vehicles have been stationed and the Ghaggar river bed below has been dug up to prevent movement of vehicles. Pedestrians were seen crossing the shallow stream on foot.

Policemen were seen taking stock of the situation through drones.

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A senior Ambala police official said the Rajiv Gandhi Sports Stadium in Sector 10 of Ambala has been declared a temporary detention centre.

Police have also made elaborate arrangements at the state's borders with Punjab in Jind and Fatehabad districts. In Fatehabad, concrete blocks and spike barriers have been placed on a road in the Jakhal area.

At the Tohana border in the district, authorities have placed sand-laden containers and concrete barricades and cemented three layers of iron nails on the road.

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In Jind, two roads near the Haryana-Punjab border have been shut for vehicular movement and restrictions imposed on two more roads, a police official said on Sunday.

In Kurukshetra, police sealed the Punjab border adjacent to the district by placing cemented blocks.

District Magistrate Shantanu Sharma said Section 144 has been imposed till February 14. Police were also keeping a vigil in view of farmers' "Delhi Chalo" call.

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Kurukshetra Superintendent of Police Surendra Singh Bhoria said arrangements have been made to deal with any situation and policemen are on alert.

He said till now, no preventive arrests have been made because none of the farmers' bodies in the district announced support for the march.

Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij said people will now be allowed to take law into their own hands. "We will protect our Haryana at any cost," he said.

The Haryana Police on Sunday said it has made extensive security arrangements in the border and other sensitive districts to maintain law and order in the state.

An official spokesperson said to maintain law and order in the state, Section 144 has been imposed in 15 districts, under which any kind of demonstration or march in tractor-trolleys has been banned.

Mischievous elements spreading misinformation through social media are being monitored by the Social Media Monitoring Cell and the general public is also requested not to share any kind of content or video on social media without verification, said the spokesperson.

Those who disrupt law and order will be dealt with strictly, said the spokesperson.

He said Kundli, Badhi, Bahadurgarh and various nearby industrial organisations have also requested the administration to take necessary steps to stop such protests because last time they had suffered huge financial loss due to such a stir.

And due to traffic being affected in these areas, many people had to lose their jobs, the spokesperson said.

Various farmer organisations in the state have also assured the police administration that they will not participate in the march, he said.

Passengers going to Punjab are appealed to follow traffic advisories issued from time to time by Haryana Police and avoid unnecessary travel.

Police have also been holding meetings with sarpanch of villages and khap panchayats, asking them not to participate in the march.

SKM (Non-Political) leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal slammed the Haryana government for making arrangements to stop farmers from going towards Delhi.

"We are ready for talks and will never run away from dialogue," he said.

On one side, talks are going on with the Centre and on the other hand, the state government is creating terror, Dallewal said, adding, "What the Khattar government is doing is unfortunate and condemnable." He said the government had "promised" a legal guarantee on minimum support price during the stir against the now-repealed farm laws in 2020-21.

The farmer leader said the government had "promised" the withdrawal of cases registered against farmers.

Farmers are forced to move towards Delhi as their demands are not accepted by the Centre.

"Why is the government scared? Huge barricading was being done. Is this democracy.... If the situation turns bad, it will be the responsibility of the Khattar government," he said in a video message.

Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee general secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher along with some other farmers offered prayers at the Akal Takht in Amritsar for the success of the 'Delhi Chalo' march.

The Haryana government has already suspended mobile internet services and bulk SMS in seven districts -- Ambala, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind, Hisar, Fatehabad and Sirsa -- from February 11 to 13.

Besides a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP), the farmers are also demanding the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations, pensions for farmers and farm labourers, farm debt waiver, withdrawal of police cases and "justice" for victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence. PTI CHS COR VSD SMN SMN

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