Rural distress has been on the surge, tending farmers’ anger. And politics has added fuel to the fire, making it a lethal cocktail.
Several high-voltage stand-offs later, farmers protesting three contentious farm bills passed by the Narendra Modi government in September have entered the national capital region, marking a headway in their Dilli Chalo march.
Thousands of farmers were allowed to enter the national capital on Friday night following clashes with police, who used tear gas, water cannon and lathis to block their march from Haryana. However, farmers gathered at Singhu border have refused to enter the city so far.
Security has also been beefed up at the Delhi-Haryana border at Tikri after the farmers gathered there despite being allowed to peacefully protest at the Sant Nirankari Ground in Burari.
The protesters — who braved tear gas shells, water cannons and lathi-charge during their agitation — said they have enough essentials to continue their protests for up to six months.
The protesting Punjab and Haryana farmers have also reportedly got support from their counterparts in Rajasthan Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand, who are expected to join the stir in the next few days.
The situation in the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh interstate border could worsen when farmers from the neighbouring states try to enter the capital to join the protest.
Protests were also observed in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh on Friday.
The police in BJP-ruled Haryana and Delhi have been widely criticised for their heavy-handed crackdown on the farmers, who are angry at the agricultural reforms they fear will leave them at the mercy of big corporations.
Bharatiya Kisan Sangh said the atrocities on the farmers should have been avoided and that the government should go after those who are “provoking and misleading” the farmers.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has backed the farmers protest, is personally monitoring arrangements being made in Burari.
Traffic and metro operations were disrupted in many parts of Delhi. At least three highways that lead to Delhi remain blocked.
The Centre has invited the farmers for a fresh round of talks on December 3. Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the government is ready to talk about the “issues and resolve differences”.