New Delhi: Thousands of farmers from various states are marching towards India’s capital Delhi on their tractor trolleys, demanding assured prices for their crops and other benefits. The farmers have called for a ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest on Tuesday, 13 February, to pressurize the government to fulfil their long-pending demands.
The Delhi Police have sealed many borders adjacent to Delhi and deployed heavy security to prevent the farmers from entering the city. The police have also imposed Section 144, which prohibits large gatherings, in the entire Delhi. Concrete walls, barbed wires and cement blocks have been erected at the border points to stop the protesters.
The farmers’ protest has caused massive traffic jams on the Delhi-Gurugram border and other highways connecting Delhi to its neighbouring states. The Supreme Court has taken cognizance of the transportation problems caused by the movement and said that it will change the timing of the court proceedings if any lawyer is facing difficulties due to the protest.
The protest has also affected the normal functioning of schools, airports and metro stations in and around Delhi. Many schools in Chandigarh have been closed as a precautionary measure. The Indira Gandhi International Airport has issued an advisory urging passengers to plan their journey keeping in mind the traffic situation. The gate of Central Secretariat Metro Station will remain closed till 2 pm.
The farmers’ protest is a continuation of the agitation that started in 2020 against the three controversial farm laws that were later repealed by the government in 2021. However, the farmers are still unhappy with the government’s response to their key demands, such as a legal guarantee to the minimum support price (MSP) for all crops, the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s formula, full debt waiver for farmers, pension for farmers and labourers, and withdrawal of cases against farmers during the 2020-21 protest.
The government has held two rounds of talks with the farm union leaders but failed to reach a consensus on the MSP issue. The government has proposed to form a committee to address the remaining issues, but the farmers have rejected the offer and insisted on a written assurance on the MSP.
The farmers’ protest is seen as one of the biggest challenges to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, especially ahead of the general elections in which the BJP is seeking a third term in power. Farmers form one of the most influential voting blocs in India and experts say the government would try not to alienate them before the polls.