Intensifying their protest against the Centre’s new agri laws, farmers took over some toll plazas in Haryana on Saturday, not allowing authorities to collect fees from commuters.
The agitating farmers had earlier said they would picket toll plazas to press their demand for a repeal of the three new laws, which were voted through in Parliament in September amid strong protests by opposition parties.
More than 100 farmers led by Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leaders Malkit Singh and Manish Chaudhry gathered at a toll plaza on the Ambala-Hisar highway, around 15 kilometers from Ambala city.
The BKU activists raised slogans demanding the withdrawal of the farm laws. The toll plaza employees allowed vehicles to pass through without paying any charge. A large number of police personnel were deployed at the toll plaza to maintain law and order.
Farmers also did not allow the collection of fees from commuters at Bastara and Peont toll plazas in Karnal. While the Bastara toll plaza is located on NH-44, the Peont toll plaza is located on the Karnal-Jind highway.
Farmers also took over four toll plazas in Hisar district. These were Mayyar toll plaza located on Hisar-Delhi National Highway nine, Bado Patti toll plaza on the National Highway 52, Chaudharywas toll on Hisar-Rajgarh road and Landhari toll on Hisar-Sirsa road.
Protesters also took over a toll plaza on Jind-Nirwana highway, Kitlana toll plaza at Charkhi Dadri road, Khuian Malkana toll plaza at Dabwali road and at some other places in the state, said farmers.
Slogans were raised against BJP MLA from Gharaunda Harvinder Kalyan when his vehicle crossed the Karnal toll plaza.
In Punjab, toll charges are not being collected from commuters as farmers have been staging sit-ins at toll plazas since October 1.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is suffering a loss of Rs 3 crore per day on account of farmers’ protest at toll plazas in the state. There are 25 toll plazas on national highways in Punjab.
The three farm laws are anticipated to bring “reforms” in the agriculture sector by removing middlemen and allowing farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.
Farmers worry these laws will eliminate the safety net of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and do away with mandis that ensure earning. But the government says the MSP system will continue and the new laws will give farmers more options to sell their crop.
Farmers from different parts of the country, including Haryana and Punjab, have been camping at various border points of Delhi for two weeks to demand a repeal of these laws.
They have rejected a government offer to amend the farm laws and give a “written assurance” on continuing the MSP system. They have also threatened to block railway tracks across the country and all highways leading to Delhi if their demand is not met.