After negotiations with the government to secure minimum prices for their crops failed, thousands of farmers began converging on the capital New Delhi. Indian security forces fired tear gas on Tuesday to prevent them from entering the city. Indian television channels showed thick clouds of tear gas fired to disperse protesters near Ambala, north of New Delhi, where police set up massive roadblocks with metal spikes, cement blocks and steel barriers on the main roads leading to the capital from the three neighboring states.
Farmers from Punjab have left for Delhi Chalo March on Tuesday 13th February. When an attempt was made to break the barricading at the Shambhu border of Punjab-Haryana, the police fired tear gas shells from a drone. At many places in Haryana, farmers tried to remove barricades. Maximum strength has been deployed,” said Ranjay Atrishya, deputy commissioner of New Delhi police. Any public gathering of more than five people has been banned in the capital. Long convoys of tractors were heading towards the capital from the neighboring states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, according to televisions. The farmers called for a “Delhi Chalo” (a march on Delhi) which evokes their demonstration on January 26, 2021 when they forced police blockades to enter New Delhi on Republic Day, during a months-long conflict with the government to protest against the liberalization of agricultural markets.
Farmers in India enjoy significant political influence due to their numbers. The threat of further protests comes ahead of national elections expected in April. Two-thirds of the population of 1.4 billion make a living from agriculture, which accounts for almost a fifth of the country’s GDP, according to official figures. Farmers across the country are ready to march on Delhi from Tuesday if the government does not meet our demands,” said Swaran Singh Pandher, leader of a national farmers’ association.
These demands relate to the setting of a minimum price for crops as well as pensions and debt cancellations. According to demonstrators, trucks come from certain states where there is no floor price and sell the merchandise where there is one. As in France, farmers want rapid answers three months before the legislative elections in the country. However, the last farmer protests lasted more than a year, until the fall of 2021. Tens of thousands of farmers then set up makeshift camps and more than 700 people were killed during the protests.