The Fight for Farmers’ Rights: Police Blockade in India’s Capital

News Desk4 months ago

In remembrance of January 2021, when farmers broke through barricades and rolled into New Delhi on Republic Day as part of their then-year-long protest, Indian farmers this week began a “Delhi Chalo,” or “March to Delhi.”

However, this time, intimidating obstacles made of concrete and police-guarded rows of razor wire have stopped the hundreds of tractors in their tracks.

A minimum price law for their products is what the farmers are requesting, along with several additional concessions including loan forgiveness.

At Shambhu, some 200 kilometers north of the city on the boundary between the states of Punjab and Haryana, where the main group of farmers has been stopped, tear gas was shot, according to AFP reporters on the scene. Based on official estimates, around 5% of India’s GDP, or two-thirds of its 1.4 billion population, make their living from agriculture.

After first employing tear gas on Tuesday, police launched new barrages on Wednesday, including dropping canisters from the air by drone as tractor-driving farmers tried to free the route by pushing barricades away.

Also Read: Chaos Unleashed: Indian Police Fire Tear Gas On Farmers

The Haryana State Police announced in a statement on Tuesday night that 24 cops had been hurt when “heavy stones were pelted at policemen.”

Three sides of the city have been encircled by police, who have blocked roads with steel barricades, blocks, and metal spikes. In addition, several areas of Haryana have stopped receiving mobile internet connections.

To stop the tractors, ditches have been dug in several areas. Some farmers have driven their tractors across the fields to avoid the barricades in places where they have been unable to get past them.

A law stipulating a minimum support price for crops “cannot be brought in a hurry,” according to Minister of Agriculture Arjun Munda, as reported by the Press Trust of India news agency on Tuesday.

Munda stated that discussions with agricultural unions are still ongoing and urged demonstrators to be “aware and alert” about individuals who would take advantage of protests for “political benefits.”

Farmers’ demonstrations against bills about agricultural reform in November 2020 lasted for nearly a year, posing the worst threat to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration since it took office in 2014. Then, tens of thousands of farmers established temporary camps, and the protests claimed the lives of at least 700 individuals.

A year after the demonstrations started, in November 2021, Modi forced the repeal of three controversial laws through parliament, which farmers had said would give private corporations control over the nation’s agricultural industry.

A significant number of Indian farmers take their own lives each year due to poverty, debt, and crops impacted by increasingly unpredictable weather patterns brought on by climate change.

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