Six farmer leaders in Uttar Pradesh’s Sambhal city have been asked to submit personal bonds of Rs 50 lakh each for allegedly trying to “instigate” farmers in the area, amid protests against the Centre’s agricultural laws, The Indian Express reported on Thursday.

They were also ordered to submit sureties of the same amount from two guarantors. Bharatiya Kisan Union (Asli) Sambhal district President Rajpal Singh is among the six leaders. Two others were identified as Jaiveer and Satendra.

Sambhal Sub-Divisional Magistrate Deependra Yadav told the newspaper that the farmer leaders were issued notices under Section 111 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The section relates to the magistrate’s order against a person who is likely to “commit breach of peace”.

An unidentified official told the newspaper that the leaders were not only instigating the farmers but also spreading fake news that could endanger peace in area, according to a police report.

Rajpal Singh, meanwhile, denied the police’s accusations. “We are holding meetings with farmers in the village and explaining them about the new farm law,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (Asli) State Youth President Rishabh Chaudhary said that the government was harassing the farmer leaders by asking them to deposit such a huge amount. He added that the farmers had the right to speak up against any wrongdoing.

Follow today’s live updates on the farmers’ protest.

Farmers have been protesting against the three agricultural laws near Delhi for 22 straight days amid the biting cold. They remain firm on their demand that the government repeal the three laws, which they fear will weaken the minimum support price mechanism and leave them at the mercy of corporate houses.

Several leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party have tried to discredit the farmers’ agitation by linking it to extremist elements and even Pakistan and China.

The farmers and the Centre have held several rounds of talks to resolve the deadlock over the new laws but there has been little progress. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court had proposed the formation of a committee comprising representatives of both the sides to end the standoff. The court said that the crisis will have to be resolved urgently “otherwise this will soon become a national issue”.