The Delhi Disaster Management Authority on Wednesday allowed farmers to hold staggered protests against the agricultural laws at Jantar Mantar from July 22 to August 9 while adhering to Covid protocols, the Hindustan Times reported.
Thousands of farmers have camped outside Delhi since November, demanding that the central government repeal the three laws that open up the country’s agriculture markets to private companies.
On Tuesday, farmer leaders associated with the Samyukt Kisan Morcha announced that they will hold a “kisan parliament” from July 22, parallel to the Monsoon Session, according to PTI. As many as 200 protestors will travel to Jantar Mantar from the Singhu border, the most prominent site of the farmers’ agitation.
Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh President Shiv Kumar Kakka told PTI that no protestor will go to the Parliament. “Police were informed that the protest will be peaceful,” he said. “We will sit at Jantar Mantar from 10 am to 5 pm.”
In an order issued on Wednesday, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority said farmers can protest from 11 am to 5 pm from Thursday. “They [the 200 protestors] would be conveyed [brought to the venue from Singhu border] by designated buses and six members of one separate group by a designated SUV on a given route under police escort subject to strict observance of Covid appropriate behaviour,” it said.
The police have also granted permission to the farmers to protest at Jantar Mantar, according to NDTV. Security has been tightened in view of the protest.
Unidentified officials told ANI that more more than 5,000 police and paramilitary officers will be deployed at the Singhu border on Thursday. “Apart from this, anti-riot force, water cannons and tear gas are on standby to make all efforts to stop the anti-social elements among the farmers from crossing over into Delhi forcefully, similar to what happened on Republic Day this year,” they added.
As the talks with the Centre failed to yield results, the farmers intensified their agitation with a tractor rally in Delhi on January 26. One person was killed and over 300 police officers were injured during the rally.
The police and the government clamped down on the farmers’ agitation after the violence. Barricades were erected at protest sites and internet services were suspended. Hundreds of protestors were arrested.
US issues alert for citizens
Meanwhile, the United States Embassy has issued an alert for its citizens in Delhi in view of the farmers’ protest, asking them to avoid the northern Delhi border, the Parliament, Rajpath, India Gate, Jantar Mantar and several metro stations.
“US Embassy New Delhi is aware of media reports of possible demonstrations in and around New Delhi on July 21 and 22 by farmers and counter-protesters,” an official statement read. “Previous such protests have sometimes led to violence.”
The embassy urged US citizens to avoid crowds and demonstrations, monitor news for updates and follow instructions from law enforcement officials.
Farm law protests
The farmers fear the central government laws will make them vulnerable to corporate exploitation and would dismantle the minimum support price regime. The government, however, continues to claim that the three legislations are pro-farmer.
In January, nearly two months into the protest movement, the Supreme Court suspended the implementation of the farm laws. It instead set up a committee and tasked it to consult stakeholders and assess the impact of the laws.
Talks between farmers groups and the central government to resolve the protests came to a complete deadlock after farmers rejected the Centre’s offer to suspend the laws for two years. The last time both sides met was on January 22. Since then, most farmer leaders have said they were willing to speak to the government again.