Farmers march to Delhi today as 5-hour-long talks inconclusive; borders sealed

Security has been heightened at Delhi borders ahead of the march

Delhi-border Barricades put up at a border leading to Delhi ahead of the farmers' protest march | Josekutty Panackal

The farmers in Punjab and Haryana, under the banner of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (non-political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha, will march to Delhi on Tuesday morning as talks held with the Centre on Monday ended inconclusive. 

The protest is to press the Centre to accept their demands, including the enactment of a law to guarantee a minimum support price (MSP) for crops. Other demands include implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's formula, full debt waiver for farmers, pension for farmers and labourers and withdrawal of cases against farmers during the 2020-21 protest.  

The farmers are also demanding "justice" for victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstating the Land Acquisition Act 2013, withdrawal from the World Trade Organisation, and compensation for families of farmers who died during the previous agitation, among others.

Three Union Ministers were in Chandigarh on Monday to hold talks with the farmers. However, the five-hour talks ended in a stalemate. After the meeting, Union Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda told reporters that he is hopeful of reaching a breakthrough through dialogue.

 "We held extensive and exhaustive deliberations with the farmers on every issue. The government is engaged in a dialogue with all the stakeholders and wants to resolve all disputes through talks. We reached a broad consensus on some of the issues of contention raised. However, on some other issues, we suggested that a committee be put together in the interest of a permanent solution. Any issue of contention could be resolved through talks," Munda said.

Besides Munda, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal too attended the second round of talks with the farmer leaders. Though the Centre reportedly agreed to withdraw the cases against the farmers registered during the 2020-21 agitation, a consensus was not reached on a legal guarantee to minimum support price for crops, which is one of their key demands.

SKM (non-political) leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal and Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee general secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher, who attended the meeting, said the government was not serious about any of their demands. "We do not think they want to fulfil our demands. Tomorrow, we will march towards Delhi at 10 am," Pandher told reporters.

He added that the government did not place any proposals before them during the talks today. "While our protest continued, we held talks with Union ministers in a bid to arrive at a breakthrough. Whenever the government calls us for talks, we will go," Pandher told ANI.

PTI02_12_2024_000299A Farmers in a trolley ahead of their scheduled march towards Delhi, in Fatehgarh Sahib | PTI

Delhi borders sealed

Ahead of the march, the government has fortified and sealed all borders to Delhi from Haryana, UP and Punjab. Concrete and metal barricades, and shipping containers lined the Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri borders to prevent vehicles carrying protesters from entering the city.

The police are also using drones to keep a tight vigil at border points, an official said, adding that they are fully prepared to deal with any law and order situation.

Earlier on Monday, tractor-trolleys set out from different parts of Punjab to join the protest. The convoy set out in the morning from Beas in Amritsar to assemble in Fatehgarh Sahib district. Many farmers from Moga, Bathinda and Jalandhar districts have joined the march. 

In Haryana, a total of 114 companies of paramilitary forces and Haryana Police have been deployed.

"A total of 114 companies have been deployed across various districts, with 64 comprising paramilitary forces and 50 comprising Haryana Police," said the spokesperson. These companies are equipped with anti-riot gear and stationed in districts that are sensitive and border with Punjab.

Section 144 of the CrPC, prohibiting assembly of five or more persons, has been imposed in many districts, and individuals are reminded to comply with the law.

Join our WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, exclusives and videos on WhatsApp