Iron nails, barbed wires, barricades and concrete slabs are some of the measures being taken to turn the the national capital into a fortress ahead of farmers’ ‘Chalo Delhi’ march on Tuesday. Several farmer associations– mostly from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab– are starting their protest march today to demand a law guaranteeing a minimum support price (MSP), one of the conditions they had set when they agreed to withdraw their agitation against the now-repealed farm laws in 2021. Apart from that, they are also seeking implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, pensions for farmers and farm labourers, farm debt waiver, withdrawal of police cases and “justice” for victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.
In view of the agitation call given by farmers’ associations, Delhi Police have invoked Section 144 (prohibitory orders) for a period of 30 days till March 12. Massive security arrangements have been put in place in the national capital and its borders to thwart any unlawful congregation between Feb 13 and Feb 15, and thereafter in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha election. Anticipating a gathering along the lines of historic demonstrations in 2020-21, against the three now repealed firm laws, authorities have taken appropriate measures to stop the groups from entering Delhi.
Farmers decided to go forward with the protest after their five-hour-long meeting with two Union ministers over their demands remained inconclusive. However, Union Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda, who along with Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal attended the second round of talks with the farmer leaders, said a consensus was reached on most issues and a formula was proposed for resolving some others through the formation of a committee.