Farmers' unions began their 'Mahapanchayat' in Delhi's Jantar Mantar on Monday, 22 August, to protest against unemployment and demand the implementation of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) as a legal guarantee.
Members of the farmers' unions, which were a part of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha during the protests in 2020-21, were seen raising slogans and breaking barricades, even as police officials tried to stop them from going forward.
"The Mahapanchayat is a one day-long peaceful event where we will reiterate our demands such as a legal guarantee on MSP and cancellation of Electricity Amendment Bill 2022 among others," said SKM (non-political) member and organiser of the Mahapanchayat, Abhimanyu Singh Kohar.
Several farmers were also detained while protesting in Ghazipur on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border.
The Delhi Police said that while some farmers had been stopped at the Ghazipur border, they were later allowed to proceed towards Jantar Mantar.
"In view of heightened security scenario and threat perception, some persons/protestors were stopped at Ghazipur border. However, after due verifications, all of them were allowed to proceed to their respective destinations," the police said.
Farmers have been arriving in the national capital since Sunday for the 'Mahapanchayat' called by the umbrella body of several farmer organisations, which had led the year-long demonstration against the three contentious agricultural laws that were rolled back by the Centre last year.
'Govt Enacting More Anti-Farmer Policies': Protesters to Prez Murmu
Meanwhile, SKM (non-political) appealed to President Droupadi Murmu in a letter on Monday, to direct the Centre to fulfill the 9 December 2021 agreement with farmers' unions, based on which their agitation against the contentious farm laws had been withdrawn on 11 December 2021.
Besides this, they sought a discussion with the Union council of ministers as soon as possible.
According to the 9 December agreement, the government had promised that all cases against farmers in courts in UP, Punjab, Haryana and other states would be taken back.
The government had also assured compensation for inflicting injuries on protesting farmers.
The letter alleged that not only had these demands not been met, but the Centre had gone on to initiate more "anti-farmer" policies like free trade agreements.
Further explaining that they had sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 17 August, informing him about the fresh protests, the letter listed out a set of new demands combined with the old ones:
Justice to the farmer families who lost their loved ones in Lakhimpur Kheri massacre, release of the farmers who are in jail from last 9 months and arrest of Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni, the main culprit of the massacre
MSP should be guarantee as per Swaminathan Commission report on C2+50% formula, and as promised a law should be made to guarantee MSP
All the farmers of the country should relieved of their debts
Electricity Amendment Bill 2022 should be cancelled
Support price of sugarcane should be increased and cane arrears should be paid immediately
India should come out of WTO and cancel all free trade agreements
All the cases registered during the farmers' movement should be withdrawn
Under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, the outstanding compensation of the farmers should be released immediately
Agneepath scheme should be withdrawn
Security has been beefed up in the national capital in view of the 'Mahapanchayat'. Additional barricades have been put up at Jantar Mantar along with heavy police deployment.
Special Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), Dependra Pathak said, "We have made adequate arrangements to ensure that law and order is maintained, and there is no loss of life and property."
Officials said that all vehicles entering the capital are being checked and the police personnel are on an 'alert mode'. Long queues of vehicles were seen at the Ghazipur and Singhu borders as both were being checked by the police.
Barricades and heightened checking were also reported from the Delhi-Meerut expressway and the Singhu border.
Massive traffic jams were also witnessed in areas adjoining the borders, including Karnal road, Libas Pur, Samaypur Badli, and Narela. The police said security has been beefed up in Delhi.
SKM leaders also claimed that some farmers were being stopped from reaching Jantar Mantar at certain locations, news agency PTI reported.
Kohar said that farmers coming from Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh were prevented from going further last night. He also claimed that they were taken to Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, Rakabganj, and Moti Bagh, but were subsequently released.
Slamming the Centre, Kohar said that several assurances were made to farmers that their demands would be met, but the government did "nothing".
"So here we are again to discuss and raise our demands, and chalk out a future strategy of the movement," the SKM member added.
BKU Leader Rakesh Tikait Detained on Sunday
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait was detained on Sunday by the Delhi Police at the Ghazipur border while he was trying to enter the national capital. He was taken to the Madhu Vihar police station where the police spoke to him and requested him to return.
"The Modi government is bent on oppression of the unemployed, the youth, farmers, and labourers. Be prepared for a long struggle for the fight for rights. At the behest of the Centre, the Delhi Police did not allow (me) to meet the unemployed youth," Tikait had said in a tweet.
Delhi Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Gopal Rai had condemned Tikait's detention.
(With inputs from PTI.)