‘Delhi Chalo’ march: Who are the farmers on Delhi borders?

Since September of 2020, three farm bills have raised anger that has been simmering in the country. In the latest development of events, for the last three days, thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh are marching towards Delhi.

Earlier the farmers tried to approach their respective state governments. Apparently, their demands were neglected. Now the farmers from all these states have decided to build pressure on the Central government, and thus they are marching towards Delhi. On one hand, the governments of Rajasthan and Punjab extended their full support to the farmers, while on the other hand UP and Haryana government failed to convince the farmers. The farmers are demanding the scrapping of the three legislations or guarantee them the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their crop with the addition of a new law.

In a recent affidavit filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court pertaining to the preventive arrests of several leaders, the Haryana government termed the majority of these groups as “organizations with a history of indulging in criminal activities, creating law and order problems and disturbing public peace and order”.

The three amendments that have triggered this wave of dissent among the farmers include The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Protection and Facilitation; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance; and Farm services and The Essential Commodities (Amendment).

These new laws are supposed to open the agricultural sale and marketing outside the notified Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis for farmers, and remove the existing barriers to inter-state trade, which would further push the framework for electronic trading of agricultural produce.

Farmers believe that this would eventually dismantle the Mandi system and they will not be able to procure the assured MSP on their crops. This would also loosen the mechanism for price fixation, even though the Price assurance legislation may offer protection to farmers against price exploitation.

On Thursday, to prevent their entry to Delhi, strict arrangements were made by deploying police and security forces and putting barricades on the Delhi-Haryana border. Friday morning, farmers of Punjab broke through the barricade on the Patiala Ambala highway and faced water cannons and tear gas shells. When these farmers reached Sadopur in Haryana, they once again had to face water cannons. Right now all the boundaries of the surrounding states in Delhi are jammed and even common entries are restricted. On the other hand, Yogendra Yadav in Gurugram had called the Kisan Morcha to Delhi, but all those who reached there were taken into custody. Section 144 has been imposed in Haryana. Senior officials are monitoring the situation. The farmers have warned that if they are stopped they will block all the routes to Delhi. In view of the farmers’ march tO Delhi, DMRC has postponed all metro services from NCR to Delhi till further orders.

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Aamir Khan

Aamir Khan is a student at the Centre for Chinese and South-east Asian Studies, JNU, New Delhi. He also works with Hasratein- a Delhi based queer collective. The current area of his academic interest lies in the study of the Chinese language and society.