With enough ration, vegetables, wood, clothes, and other essentials, the farmers from across the country are set to lay an “indefinite siege of Delhi” on Thursday against the three farm laws and Centre's plan to amend the Electricity Act.
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Over hundreds of farmers have started gathering at the Delhi border along with Haryana despite barricades. The BJP-ruled Haryana has imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC in several parts of the state to prevent assembly of protesters.
On the other hand, the Delhi police have said that they would not allow any protests by farmers. The capital has suspended metro services to neighbouring cities till 2 pm.
Why are farmers agitated?
The farmers have opposed the three contentious farm laws that were enacted by the Centre on September 27. They have been demanding to repeal the farm laws, alleging that none of the stakeholders was consulted before the enactment of the laws.
Their biggest fear is the end of minimum support prices (MSP) procurement because of these laws. However, the Centre has denied any uncertainty regarding MSP.
The Centre has time and again, asserted that the laws will transform the agriculture system in India and will let farmers sell their produce anywhere in the country.
Amid the ongoing protests, the Central government has also invited farmer unions from Punjab for the second round of ministerial talks on December 3 to resolve differences over the new agriculture laws.
Talking about the end of MSP, the food secretary said, "Earlier laws too did not have any mention of MSP. Even the new agri-laws do not mention it. MSP is mentioned only in the National Food Security Act (NFSA) which has not been changed. Till Public Distribution System (PDS) is there, MSP will continue".
States like Punjab and Haryana have been witnessing a major showdown after these laws were enacted. Last week, the farmers lifted the 60-day 'rail roko' agitation for 15 days starting on November 23 and agreed to let all goods and passenger trains to operate across Punjab.
Farmer leaders were arrested in Haryana on November 24th and 25th with intention of preventing them from traveling to Delhi. Even after giving undertaking of peaceful conduct and offering of bail bond, the farmer leaders were kept in custody.
Water cannons were used against farmers near Kurukshetra, despite which the farmers continued to move towards Delhi.
Haryana has decided to completely seal its borders with Punjab on November 26 and 27.
The Punjab-Haryana border has not only been barricaded but fortified with boulders and barbed wire fence. The CRPF has also been deployed.
Farmers’ convoy led by Medha Patkar, Pratibha Shinde, Kavita Srinivasan and others, traveling from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh was stopped at the Rajasthan-UP border between Dholpur and Agra, and not allowed to enter into Uttar Pradesh, resulting in a partial blockade of national highway for several hours.
Farmers’ convoys from Uttarakhand have been blocked at points within Uttarakhand as well as in Uttar Pradesh.
Supporting the protests, Shiromani Akali Dal President, Sukhbir Singh Badal said, "By stopping Punjabi farmers from peacefully exercising democratic rights, Centre is repeating 1982 when the Akalis were stopped from entering Delhi to protest. Painful history must not be forced to repeat itself."
(With inputs from agencies and Sagar Kulkarni)