Farmers To March Towards Delhi, Punjab-Haryana Borders Fortified

Farmers plan to march towards Delhi after inconclusive talks with Union ministers.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>A farmer on a tractor. (Photo: Manoj Kulkarni/Unsplash)</p></div>
A farmer on a tractor. (Photo: Manoj Kulkarni/Unsplash)

Farmers will march towards Delhi on Tuesday after a meeting with two Union ministers over their demands, including legal guarantee to MSP for crops, remained inconclusive.

Authorities in Haryana have fortified the state's borders with Punjab at many places in Ambala, Jind, Fatehabad, Kurukshetra and Sirsa using concrete blocks, iron nails and barbed wire to scuttle the proposed march.

The Haryana government has also imposed restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC in as many as 15 districts, prohibiting the assembly of five or more people and banning any kind of demonstration or march with tractor trolleys.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha have announced that farmers will head to Delhi on Tuesday to press the Centre to accept their demands, including the enactment of a law to guarantee a Minimum Support Price for crops.

The farmers have announced to start the march at 10 a.m. They plan to head to Delhi from the Ambala-Shambhu, Khanauri-Jind and the Dabwali borders.

Following a second round of meeting that lasted more than five hours with the Centre late on Monday, Sarwan Singh Panhder -- general secretary of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee -- said, "We do not think the government is serious about any of our demands. We do not think they want to fulfil our demands … Tomorrow, we will march towards Delhi at 10 a.m."

However, Union Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda, who, along with Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal, attended the second round of talks with the farm leaders, said a consensus was reached on most issues and a formula was proposed for resolving some others through the formation of a committee.

"We are still hopeful that farmer bodies will hold talks … We will try to resolve issues in the coming days," Munda said after the meeting.

Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal said the government wanted the formation of a committee on the issues of giving legal guarantee to MSP, debt waiver and the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations.

"We will apprise our farmers in a forum what happened in the meeting," he said.

"It is our compulsion to move towards Delhi," he added when asked about the 'Delhi Chalo' march call.

Besides a legal guarantee for MSP, the farmers are also demanding implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations, pensions for farmers and farm labourers, farm debt waiver, withdrawal of police cases and 'justice' for victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act - 2013, withdrawal from the World Trade Organization, and compensation for families of farmers who died during the previous agitation, among others.

On Monday, tractor trolleys set out from different parts of Punjab to join the protest march. Many farmers on their tractor trolleys assembled at Mehlan Kalan Chowk in Sangrur district.

On the tractor trolleys sporting flags of the farm unions, farmers packed essential items, including dry ration, mattresses and utensils, among others.

An excavator was also among the convoy of tractor trolleys, with a farmer in Amritsar saying it would be used to break barricades.

In Haryana, 64 companies of paramilitary personnel and 50 from the Haryana Police have been deployed across various districts.

These personnel are equipped with anti-riot gear and stationed in the border and the sensitive districts.

Additionally, drones and CCTV cameras are being used to monitor miscreants and mischievous elements, said a spokesperson.

The Haryana Police is fully capable of addressing any disturbances or untoward incidents, said the spokesperson.