The Haryana government has converted two large stadiums into makeshift jails ahead of the planned march by thousands of farmers to Delhi on Tuesday.
Chaudhary Dalbir Singh Indoor Stadium in Sirsa, and Guru Gobind Singh Stadium in Dabwali will serve as temporary jails to keep detained farmers in case their march goes ahead, sources said.
In case of any untoward situation, farmers who are detained or arrested in large numbers will be kept in the temporary jails, sources said.
The authorities in neighbouring Delhi have also fortified borders with concrete blocks at many places. Road spikes, barbed wires and thousands of police personnel have been deployed along the interstate border.
The Centre has invited the farmer unions for another meeting to discuss their demands on February 12; however, the move to block the borders to prevent farmers from entering the national capital drew criticism from Opposition parties and farmer groups today.
The authorities in both Haryana and Delhi have defended the restrictions, citing the 2020 protest against the now-repealed three farm laws.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha and several farmer associations, mostly from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Punjab have called the protest to press the Centre to accept their demands, including the enactment of a law to guarantee a minimum support price (MSP) for crops.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra shared a video of road spike barriers being placed on state borders. “Is laying nails-thorns in the path of farmers ‘amritkaal’ or ‘anyaykaal’?” she said.
Punjab Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Bhagwant Mann compared the roads to enter Delhi and Haryana to the India-Pakistan Line of Control (LoC).
“I urge the Centre to hold talks with farmers and accept their genuine demands… There are as many wires put up on the roads (Punjab-Haryana borders) to go to Delhi as there are at the border with Pakistan,” Mr Mann said.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) also slammed the blocking of roads. “Why is the government scared? Huge barricading is being done. Is this democracy?” SKM leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal said. “If the situation turns bad, it will be the responsibility of the Khattar government,” he said in a video message.
Haryana has sealed the border with Punjab at Shambhu near Ambala. Big arrangements are in place at the border in Jind and Fatehabad districts to stop the march. The state government has also snapped mobile internet services and bulk SMS in seven districts – Ambala, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind, Hisar, Fatehabad, and Sirsa – from February 11 to 13.
In 2020, a large number of farmers from Punjab and nearby areas of Ambala had gathered at the Shambhu border and broke police barriers to march towards Delhi. The farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, held a year-long sit-in on Delhi’s border points – Singhu, Tikri, and Ghazipur – against the three central farm laws.