Farmer bodies on Monday held a “mahapanchayat” at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to discuss the future course of action on their demands including a legal guarantee for maximum selling price, and the resignation of Union minister Ajay Mishra and others, The Indian Express reported.
Ahead of their arrival in the national capital, the Delhi police increased security at Singhu and Ghazipur borders – the two major sites of demonstrations against the Centre’s three contentious agriculture laws between November 2020 and November 2021, PTI reported.
Some farmers were detained at the Ghazipur border by the Delhi Police, The Indian Express reported. The police claimed the farmers were arrested in a bid to “control the crowd”.
Farmer leader Baldev Singh Sirsa said that residents from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu have gathered in Delhi to reiterate their demands.
“Our demands are met only through agitation, why is that?” Sirsa asked, according to the newspaper. “If the government does not meet the demands, the protest will be intensified. Today’s protest is only of the non-political groups.”
Sirsa further said that after the farm laws were repealed in November, the government had said that it will form a committee to implement minimum support prices for farm produce.
“They said that the cases against farmers registered during the farmers’ protest will be withdrawn, which has not been done yet,” Sirsa added. “We want justice for the Lakhimpur Kheri incident. The recommendations of the MS Swaminathan report on the MSP [minimum support price] should be implemented.”
Between August 18 and August 21, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farmers, held a 75-hour-long protest in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district seeking the resignation of Union minister Ajay Mishra as well as various other demands.
Lakhimpur Kheri is the place where eight persons, including four farmers, were killed on October 3 after violence broke out during a protest against the Centre’s agricultural laws. Farmer bodies had alleged that a vehicle belonging to Ashish Mishra, the son of Ajay Mishra, had run over a group of demonstrators.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha had spearheaded the protests against the farm laws that were withdrawn by Parliament on November 29.
However, farmer leaders had said that they would continue their protest till their other demands were met. These included a legal guarantee on minimum support prices for farm produce and the withdrawal of cases lodged against the protestors during the farm law agitation.
The Centre had then sent draft proposals on the farmers’ demands. After some deliberations, the farmers on December 9 accepted the proposal and decided to suspend the agitation. In February, farmer bodies had warned of resuming the agitation if the Centre did not meet their demands.
Traffic movement affected
The police on Monday said that they are alert and checking all vehicles entering the national capital, PTI reported. Traffic movement may be affected in many parts of Delhi because of the barricades, they added.
Delhi residents have been asked to avoid Tolstoy Marg, Sansad Marg, Janpath Road, Ashoka Road, Outer Circle Connaught Place, Baba Kharak Singh Marg and Pandit Pant Marg.
“In this connection, adequate deployment of local police and outside force has been made in the outer district at Tikri border, major intersections, along railway tracks and metro stations to avoid any untoward incident,” an unidentified police officer said.