‘Farmer leaders claim numbers are much higher than police estimate’

New Delhi: Amid the ongoing farmers agitation against the Government of India (GoI) introduced farm laws, top officers of Haryana police estimate the presence of around 40,000 “committed supporters” from Punjab and Haryana at Singhu and Tikri borders even after the passing of nearly four months since the agitation shifted to Delhi late November last year.

At ground level in Haryana, the farmers are busy executing micromanagement to sustain the agitation for months even as 25 companies of armed forces are still camping in the state to help the local police handle the ongoing stir, a report by The Indian Express said.

As per the report, the police officials estimate, there are 18,000-19,000 protesters sitting at Singhu border while another 20,000-22,000 are at Tikri. Farmer leaders, however, claim that the numbers are much higher than the estimates of police

Speaking to The Indian Express, a senior Haryana Police officer claimed a significant decrease in the number of farmers at Delhi borders in Haryana jurisdiction in comparison to their presence on January 26 but adds that “still there is a big number of protesters at the borders”. “We can’t underestimate their current presence at the borders,” added the officer requesting anonymity.

Earlier on Thursday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh urged the GoI to leave its ego, scrap the three farm reform laws and bring in new legislations after fresh discussions with farmers. Singh was addressing the media on the completion of four years of his government.

“Bring new bills after discussion with farmers. Sit with them, talk to them and then bring a new bill. Why are you sitting on prestige and ego,” he asked the GoI. Referring to the amendment bills passed by the state assembly last year to “negate” the GoI’s farm laws, Singh said, “We will go to the Supreme Court if the President does not give assent to the state amendment bills.”

Captain Singh further said he could not see a middle path to break the stalemate between the farmers and the government of India, and asked the GoI to scrap the farm laws.

How many more farmers have to die, he asked, pointing out that 112 farmers from Punjab alone have lost their lives since the agitation began.

Targeting the governor for not forwarding the amendment bills passed by the Punjab Assembly for the President’s assent, he remarked, “Are we a democracy or not?”

Punjab took a unanimous decision and the governor has no business to sit on the files, the chief minister said. It is his duty to forward to the President for assent under Article 254 (2) of the Constitution, he said.

Captain Singh said his government would fulfil the promises made in the run-up to the assembly elections in 2017 before going back to the people for their blessings ahead of the 2022 Assembly elections.

The Congress in Punjab has no rival. Neither the Akalis nor the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) can offer any competition, he claimed.

The chief minister said more than 85 per cent of promises made in the last election manifesto have been implemented and claimed it was recorded for any party in any state.

He said the previous record was held by Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh (for 81 per cent of promises fulfilled).

Listing his government’s biggest achievement as the maintenance of ”Punjabiyat” in the state, Captain Singh said people wanted peace so as to conduct their work or business.

Asked if he would lead the party in the 2022 assembly election and be its Chief Ministerial face, Captain Singh it the for the Congress leadership to decide.

 

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