From 11 am to 4 pm on Saturday, several points on the Western Peripheral Expressway or Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway were blocked by farmers on tractors, to mark 100 days of the protest at Delhi’s borders against the new farm laws. Commuters were either stuck for hours or rerouted by police during the day.
Near Singhu border, a couple of hundred tractors were placed at regular intervals and two lines of tractors were strategically placed to dam traffic. Protesters sat on coloured mats with tea and peanuts being served across the location . the gang only moved briefly when an ambulance reached the world within the afternoon.
Prateep Singh (30), a protester from Haryana’s Fatehabad, said he started from the protest site at 10 am and reached the designated spot for the blockade an hour later: “We took the Narela road and came via villages. it’s been goodbye since the protests started; we are here with great care the govt will hear us.”
A few kilometres down the expressway, commuters on bikes waited for the road to open. Gourav Gurjar (25), who had gone to Bareilly for a vacation and was returning to Rohtak, was among them. “I’m unsure whether to attend for the road to open or to require another route,” he said.
Meanwhile, Haryana traffic police at the spot asked commuters to require a route via Baghpat or Sonepat. An ambulance was deployed at the spot just in case of an emergency and police deployed on either end of the KMP didn’t allow commuters to enter.
Further down the road, there was an identical roadblock by locals from Baghpat. Pratap Singh from the Bharatiya Kisan Union, said, “Trucks carrying essentials like fruits, vegetables, water, milk travel within the morning, so we aren’t disrupting any services. just in case there’s an ambulance or an emergency, or a family with children, we’ll let the vehicle pass.”
Sarad Pandey (36), a teamster who works at a pipe fitting company in Delhi, said he didn’t realize the blockade: “I was returning to Delhi from Rudrapur in Uttarakhand. a number of us parked here in the dark and decided to sleep. Had we known, we might have gone ahead and reached home by now.” With several trucks stuck, farmers asked drivers to hitch them for lunch at the langar.
Around 200 protesters also blocked the Palwal section of the expressway. Arun Jaildar, president of the 52 Pals of Palwal and adjoining areas, said, “We moved peacefully to the expressway at 11 am and blocked the section until 3 pm… There was no friction between police and protesters.”
“We blocked the highway to draw attention to our issues, but we also tried to minimise inconvenience to commuters and residents. it’s been 100 days since we’ve been protesting, but it appears to possess made no impact on the government… farmers helped make the PM who he’s today; we’ve given him more support and respect than anyone else,” said Mahender Singh, a farmer from Palwal.
A Palwal police spokesperson said: “Police presence had been increased within the district to make sure there was no obstruction to law and order; special checkpoints had been found out at 8 places alongside traffic diversions to minimize inconvenience to commuters.”