Protesting farmers called it a day after hours of clash with police on their way to Delhi today, declaring “ceasefire” and promising to “try again tomorrow”. For Delhi and its neighbouring states, it was a flashback to 2020-21 as thousands of farmers tried to make their way towards the national capital, facing off with the police at practically every state border.
The Haryana police went all out to stop them from entering the state, throwing all they had at the protesters — drones carrying tear gas canisters, water cannons, cement barriers, sandbags and tyre deflators.
The farmers say they are ready for a long haul and come armed with six months’ worth of rations and diesel. “We didn’t budge through the 13 months last time. We were promised our demands will be met, but the government didn’t keep its promise. This time, we will leave only after all our demands are met,” a farmer said.
“It is ceasefire for today and we will try again tomorrow morning,” said a farmer leader.
The farmers started the “Delhi Chalo” march this morning after a last-ditch meeting with a team of Union ministers yesterday remained inconclusive. The Centre, they said, is not ready to meet the demands they had promised to meet two years ago in writing.
Among the farmers’ demands is a law that guarantees them a Minimum Support Price (MSP) for all crops, farm loan waiver and the implementation of Swaminathan Commission recommendations.
All three remained sticking points in yesterday’s talks. The farmers alleged that the government is just wasting time and have no intention of meeting their demands.
Delhi has turned into a fortress, with the police putting in place prohibitory orders banning large gatherings at the border, putting up concrete roadblocks and carpeting the road with nails. The Centre and Arvind Kejriwal government, meanwhile are at odds again over a “holding area” for the farmers in case they manage to cross into Delhi.
The Arvind Kejriwal government has declined the centre’s proposal to convert a stadium into a “holding area”.
The prohibitory orders will stay on for a month and the Delhi Police have also placed restrictions on vehicles movement across the border.