Home Latest News ‘Delhi Chalo’ march intensifies: Protesting farmers allowed to enter, will be escorted by the Delhi Police

‘Delhi Chalo’ march intensifies: Protesting farmers allowed to enter, will be escorted by the Delhi Police

by Web Desk
‘Delhi Chalo’ march intensifies: Protesting farmers allowed to enter, will be escorted by the Delhi Police

Demand For Minimum Support Price (MSP)

Police in northern India today fired tear gas to stop thousands of protesting farmers from marching on towards Delhi. The protestors are demanding MSP or Minimum Support Price.

The capital has been secured by cement blocks, razor wire, and fencing on three sides to keep protesters away. The government fears that the situation may be a repeat of 2020 – when dozens of protestors including aged farmers had died in a year-long protest that ended only after the government agreed to the repeal controversial agriculture laws.

But over two years later, protesting farmers have claimed other demands have not been met. Farmers in India form an influential voting bloc, and those in the know have stated that the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be keen not to alienate them. Notably, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is seeking a third consecutive term in power in general elections this year.

On Tuesday, photos in the media showed thick clouds of tear gas being used to disperse protesters near the city of Ambala, about 200km (125 miles) north of the capital. The police also fired tear gas at the Shambhu border between Haryana and Punjab states.

Farmers, most of whom are from Punjab, claim that they want to peacefully cross Haryana and reach Delhi, but they have been prevented from doing so. Scuffles between police and protesters have also been reported at the Shambhu border and the situation remains tense.

Memories Of The 2020 Farmer’s Protest Remain Fresh

In 2020, protesting farmers picketed for months, blocking national highways that connect the capital to the neighbouring states. The farmers’ movement in 2020 was seen as one of the biggest challenges to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

On Tuesday, heavy traffic jams and disruptions were reported across Delhi as authorities blocked roads and diverted traffic. The police have also prohibited large gatherings in the city, including at border points between Delhi and the neighbouring Uttar Pradesh and Haryana states.

In Haryana, the BJP-led state government has suspended internet services in seven districts. There have been two rounds of talks between farm union leaders and federal ministers. However, so far, they have failed to break the deadlock.

On Monday, union ministers held a meeting with farm union leaders that lasted for six hours. As per reports, the two sides reached an agreement on some of the demands, including the withdrawal of cases registered against protesters during the 2020 protests.

But there was no consensus reached on the MSP.

Farmers are demanding assured floor prices – also known as minimum support price or MSP – that allows them to sell most of their produce at government-controlled wholesale markets or mandis. They are also demanding that the government fulfil its promise of doubling farmers’ income.

In 2021, after the farm laws were repealed, the government had assured that it would set up a panel to find ways to ensure support prices for all farm produce. However, two years down the line, the committee is yet to submit its report.

More than 200 farmer unions are participating in the current march. “We will move peacefully and our objective is that the government listens to our demands,” Sarvan Singh Pandher, general secretary of the Punjab Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, told ANI news agency.

Farmers’ and their trade unions have declared a rural strike on February 16 during which no agricultural activities will be carried out. Offices, shops, and markets in all villages will remain closed. Farmers have also announced that they intend to block major roads across the country.

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