New Delhi, January 29:

Clashes between locals and farmers broke out at Singhu border on Friday afternoon. The police resorted to lathicharge and tear gas.

Hundreds of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) members stayed put on the Delhi-Meerut Expressway on Friday as the crowd swelled there overnight, notwithstanding the Ghaziabad administration’s ultimatum to vacate the UP Gate protest site.

On a call of the BKU, more farmers from western Uttar Pradesh districts such as Meerut, Baghpat, Bijnor, Muzaffarnagar, Moradabad and Bulandshahr reached the UP Gate by early morning to join the stir, even as the security forces at the protest site thinned out overnight. A confrontation was building up at the UP Gate in Ghazipur even as frequent power cuts were witnessed on Thursday evening at the protest site, where BKU members, led by Rakesh Tikait, are staying put since November 28 last year.

Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh Chaudhary has announced support to the BKU. “It is a matter of life and death for farmers, but do not worry. All have to stay together, united in this — this is Chaudhary Sahab’s (Ajit Singh’s) message,” the RLD vice-president said in a tweet in Hindi.

Delhi’s border points at Tikri and Singhu remained under heavy police deployment on Friday in the aftermath of the Republic Day violence.

It was a tense night at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border at Ghazipur after the local administration issued orders to protesting farmers to immediately vacate the premises. The farmers, however, refused to give in. Tikait announced emotionally that “we will commit suicide but won’t end the protest until the farm Bills are repealed”. The order had a ripple effect in Punjab and Haryana, where a campaign began to send more protesters and tractors to the dharna sites as back up.

At Singhu, locals staged a protest against farmers on Thursday demanding their removal. They complained that the two-month-long agitation has made their daily commute difficult.

Meanwhile, leaders of 18 Opposition parties boycotted the President’s customary address to a joint sitting of Parliament ahead of the Budget session in solidarity with farmer unions who have been protesting the three recently-enacted farm laws at Delhi’s borders. Responding to their joint statement, Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi made an appeal to leaders to attend, saying “the government is ready to discuss all issues threadbare”.