Indian police erected barricades on key highways on Monday as farmers threaten to march to the capital, New Delhi.
Farmers have called for a “Delhi Chalo” — or “March to Delhi” — on Tuesday to demand better crop prices as well as pensions and the writing off of loans.
“Farmers from across the country are prepared to march on Delhi starting Tuesday if the government doesn’t meet our demands,” Swaran Singh Pandher, leader of a nationwide farmers’ association, told the AFP news agency.
In addition to placing cement blocks and metal spikes along major roads, authorities have also banned gatherings of more than five people in Delhi.
Why are Indian farmers unhappy?
Two-thirds of India’s 1.4-billion population draw their livelihood from agriculture, forming an influential voting bloc in the country.
But thousands of Indian farmers die by suicide each year due to the stresses of poverty, debt, and crop failures caused by climate change.
The farmers’ demands echo massive protests against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agricultural reforms in 2020.
Those protests lasted for a year and saw farmers breach barricades and march into the capital on Republic Day in 2021.
Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), a key farmers’ association, expressed its “strong discontent and anger” at police for erecting anti-protest barricades but said it was not taking part in the planned march on Tuesday. It instead called for strikes on Friday to press for their demands.
zc/lo (Reuters, AFP)