Farmer protest continues at Dasna toll plaza, may spill over to DND flyway

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) members continued their dharna at the Dasna toll plaza site on NH-24 on Tuesday, resulting in the commuters getting a free pass at the toll plaza for the third consecutive day.

The farmers have been agitating across western Uttar Pradesh since Sunday, demanding free passage to farmers and residents who live in a 10-km radius around toll plazas in the state. There have been similar agitations in Meerut and Saharanpur.

Regional leaders of BKU, protesting at the Dasna toll plaza, said they would insist on free passage at least till December 15.

Pradeep Tikait, a farmer leader, said, "For now, we are planning to continue our protest till December 15. If the administration does not agree to our demands by that time, we will intensify the struggle. Negotiations are on with the state government."

Tikait said their demands were simply "to allow poor farmers to use roads around their homes without paying ".

"These highways are the only roads for villagers, a majority of whom are poor farmers. Since there are no slip roads, they have to pay a toll each time they cross the toll plaza, which is not fair. Do people in cities pay a toll to reach their homes? Then why do farmers who live in rural areas have to face this extra expenditure?" Tikait said.

Dasna toll plaza operators said they were being threatened with violence, if they collected toll.

"Each day, close to 100 BKU representatives gather here and threaten us with dire consequences if we collect toll," a toll booth operator said.

He said while the exact figure was not known, a loss of over Rs 2 lakh has been incurred over the past three days. "Since some of the operators are from these villages, they are sympathetic to the cause," he said.

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