Chandigarh, June 13 () Protesting farmers, demanding procurement of the sunflower crop at the minimum support price (MSP) as announced by the Centre and release of arrested agitators, on Tuesday continued with their protest on National Highway-44 in Pipli in Haryana’s Kurukshetra for the second day, keeping it shut and hampering traffic bound for the national capital from Chandigarh, Amritsar, Jammu, and Shimla.
Farmers slept overnight on the national highway as they installed tents and temporary sheds. Police had to divert the traffic through link roads.
Official sources told that various rounds of talks were held between the district administration and farmer leaders in the past two days but remained inconclusive.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Monday called farmers for talks, but they refused.
The farmers said they would not leave the highway till the government agreed to procure the oilseeds at the MSP of Rs 6,400 per quintal as announced for the crop by the Central government for 2022-23.
In an affidavit in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the state government said talks were going on with the farmer leaders and a solution to the problem will be found soon. “Other routes are being used as an alternative to run the traffic smoothly.”
The oilseed growers are not happy with the relief announced on June 10 by Chief Minister Khattar, saying it was an attempt to prevent the ‘mahapanchayat’ called by farmers’ associations.
Addressing the ‘mahapanchayat’, BKU leader Rakesh Tikait said the government should release the farmer leaders who were arrested for blocking the national highway and ensure procurement at the MSP, or protests would be held across the country.
However, Tikait has denied reports the highway has been blocked. “We are not blocking the highway. It is not right… highways should not be blocked,” he told reporters at the protest site on Monday.
According to the police advisory, commuters coming from the Ambala side have been diverted from Sadhopur to NH152-D (Chandigarh-Hisar) and further commuters can travel via Ismailabad, Karnal and beyond via the NH-44.
They can take a turn from Ambala Cantonment bus stand to travel towards Delhi side via Mahesh Nagar, Saha, Radaur, Ladwa, Karnal and further via NH-44.
For traffic from Delhi, the commuters can turn via Indri road from Karnal on the NH-44 and travel via Ladwa, Babain, Shahbad and take the NH-44 for their further destination or turn right from Ladwa Chowk to travel via Radaur and take the NH3-44 (Saharanpur-Panchkula) or travel till Nilokheri in Karnal and take Dhand road to reach Kaul and commute via the NH152D for Ambala.
Terming the NH-44 as lifeline connecting the country’s length and breadth, the High Court last week spoke tough and directed Haryana and other respondents to ensure “it is kept open for free flow and movement of the traffic without any hindrance so that the public at large is not put to any kind of inconvenience”.
“This direction shall be given effect forthwith, without any further delay. However, at the same time, it is made clear that the administration shall exercise utmost restraint and would use force to disperse the mob collected at the spot, only as a last resort,” a bench of Justices Manjari Nehru Kaul and Manisha Batra has observed.
The bench was hearing an application filed against Haryana and other respondents by Randeep Tanwar, who was seeking issuance of directions to stop a “mob of people from gathering on the National Highway-44 at the behest of respondents, comprising the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU)”.