Stopped At Border, Medha Patkar Runs Past Cops To Enter Tikri Protest Site

Rights activist Medha Patkar (right) and Puja Moorey, who represents the Swabhimani Khetkari Sangathan in Maharashtra, run across the Tikri border, leaving policemen behind, as they dash towards the farmers’ protest site, on Monday (Ratna/ Empire Diaries)

Ratna

Tikri Border (Delhi), December 7, 2020: Human rights activist Medha Patkar belted out a spirited address to motivate anti-farm law protesters at the Delhi-Haryana border of Tikri on Monday – but only after some tense scenes that saw her run past police cover to enter the site after being stopped by cops.

Patkar, the architect of the iconic Narmada Bachao Andolan, reached the Tikri border on Monday morning. Agitating farmers, on being kept at bay, have blocked the road connecting the two states, while police cordoned off the site.

Upon reaching the border, Patkar was heading out to the protest site on foot to interact with the demonstrators, when she was stopped by policemen standing guard.

When she asked them why she was being stopped, a senior police officer told her that the policemen deployed there didn’t have the orders to allow her to enter the cordoned-off protest site. She was told that she could enter the site only via a long detour and not the straight road.

Medha Patkar being told by a senior police officer at the Tikri border that she can’t take the straight road to the protest site (Ratna/ Empire Diaries)

A miffed Patkar vehemently argued her case with the senior police officer, explaining that the police had no reason to stop her from taking the straight road because she wasn’t carrying any dangerous or objectionable materials, such as weapons or ammunition.

But the senior policeman kept on stonewalling. As he was consulting his superiors at the site, Patkar stormed her way past the police and athletically ran about 100 metres to enter the protest area.

The cops seemed to have given up on the standoff with her as a short while later, she addressed the crowd and made an impassioned appeal to them to stick to their demand of seeking to get the controversial farm laws scrapped.

‘Why am I being stopped?’ Medha Patkar asks a senior policeman at the Tikri border (Ratna/ Empire Diaries)

“We want the government to repeal the farm laws. We will not compromise on the demand,” Patkar told the crowd, which included not just farmers, but also students and people from other walks of life. “Despite what’s being told, the MSP (Minimum Support Price) system is in trouble.”

The rights activist went on to criticise the government for corporatising key sectors of the Indian economy.

“The government has handed over the country’s education industry to corporates. The health sector has been largely privatised. Now, the new farm laws will see corporates take over the agricultural sector as well,” said Patkar in her speech. “If we allow this to happen, the farmers of the country will be destroyed. And eventually, the country will be destroyed.”

The sprint towards the Tikri protest site begins (Ratna/ Empire Diaries)

A little over a week back, Patkar and an accompanying contingent of protesters were stopped overnight at the Rajasthan-UP border while they were on their way to Delhi to join the protest movement.   

The national capital has been encircled by agitating farmers, who have blocked the main land arteries connecting Delhi to the surrounding states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

Farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and several other states have converged on the capital city to protest over the farm laws that were passed in September.

Medha Patkar (on the far left) dashes towards the Tikri protest site while a policeman (centre, right) tries to catch up with her (Ratna/ Empire Diaries)

The Tikri border lies on Delhi’s western edge. The city is surrounded by Haryana on the north, west and south and shares its eastern border with Uttar Pradesh.

Among the several border roads leading to Delhi that have been shut due to the farmers’ movement, the northern border of Singhu has been the biggest flashpoint so far, with the majority of the protesting farmers camped there as the deadlock continues.

The farmer leaders have called for a peaceful nationwide strike on Tuesday, a day ahead of the sixth round of talks with the government.

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