Indian authorities responded Monday to farmers’ announced intention to march towards New Delhi by implementing precautionary measures, including placing barricades along key highways. This underscores the tension between farmers and the government regarding fair crop prices and agricultural policies.
Indian farmers are in a standoff with authorities as they strive to march towards New Delhi, similar to their year-long protest in 2021 when they demanded fair prices and other rights. Police have erected barricades on key highways leading to the capital, hindering the farmers’ progress. Approximately one hundred thousand farmers affiliated with the Samyukt Kisan Morcha-Non Political (SKM-NP) are preparing to rally in Delhi.
In response to the farmers’ march, authorities have imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) across Delhi, prohibiting public gatherings and rallies. Additionally, they have suspended internet services, issued traffic advisories, and erected barricades to hinder the farmers’ progress towards the capital.
The primary objective of the march is to advocate for guaranteed minimum support prices (MSPs) for their agricultural produce. Tensions escalated following the recent detention of SKM-NP leader Shiv Kumar Kakka by the Madhya Pradesh police, sparking concerns among farmers about the government’s commitment to meaningful dialogue.
The farmers have presented a comprehensive set of demands, including relief from agricultural debts and opposition to Foreign Direct Investment and corporatization in farming. However, the most pressing demand remains the assurance of MSPs. Despite the government’s annual announcements of support prices for over 20 crops, it primarily benefits a small fraction of farmers by purchasing rice and wheat at these levels. Consequently, farmers are urging the government to fulfill its promise made during the previous protest to double their income.
This march occurs against the backdrop of impending national elections in India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to secure a third term. With farmers holding significant voting power, political parties are eager to appease them. However, the ongoing standoff could potentially sway the election outcome, further complicating the situation.