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Business News/ News / India/  Farmers suspend 'Delhi Chalo' March for 2 days after Govt invite

Farmers suspend 'Delhi Chalo' March for 2 days after Govt invite

Farmers have been camping at border points since 13 February, seeking, among other things, a legal guarantee for minimum support price for crops and farm debt waiver

Protesting farmers run away from exploding tear gas shells used by the police near Shambhu border that divides northern Punjab and Haryana states, some 200 km from New Delhi. (Photo: AP)Premium
Protesting farmers run away from exploding tear gas shells used by the police near Shambhu border that divides northern Punjab and Haryana states, some 200 km from New Delhi. (Photo: AP)

New Delhi: Protesting farmers have decided to suspend their march towards Delhi for two days,  Sarwan Singh Pandher, head of Punjab Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, said at a press conference on Wednesday.

“We will have discussions over the incident that took place in Khanauri. There will be a two-day stay for our Delhi Chalo march. We will clarify the entire situation about what our further movement will be later." 

The announcement comes hours after Union minister Arjun Munda extended an invitation to the farmers for a fifth round of discussions, conveying the government's willingness to engage in talks and seek resolutions to their grievances. The farmer's protests have entered the eighth day.

"While making a policy, it is important to keep in mind the interests of the farmers of the entire country. Keeping this in mind, we will work towards resolving their concerns in the coming days," Munda told PTI.

On Tuesday, the farmers had dismissed the government's proposals, and had decided to resume their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march. 

“After the fourth round, the government is ready to discuss all the issues including MSP demand, crop diversification, stubble issue, and FIR in the fifth round. I again invite farmer leaders for talks. We need to maintain peace," a statement from the agriculture ministry quoting Munda said. 

Meanwhile, doctors at government-run Rajindra Hospital in Patiala, Punjab, confirmed the death of 24-year-old Shubh Karan Singh at the Khanouri border, making it the third casualty during the latest round of protests.

Farmers have turned down the government’s offer to purchase pulses, maize, and cotton at guaranteed prices for five years, demanding instead a legal guarantee on the minimum support price for all 23 crops, along with the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, pensions for farmers and farm laborers, and a waiver of farm debts.

The farmers are led by two umbrella bodies—the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM)—representing 200 farm unions.

The protests come amid subdued agricultural production following repeated climate shocks including uneven rainfall last year. Farm incomes were also hit by export curbs announced by the government to tame consumer inflation. For farmers, who were promised that their incomes will be doubled by 2022—as per a government set target—the crisis of profitability has translated into a rallying cry for revamp of the minimum support price regime.

On Wednesday, Haryana Police reportedly fired tear gas and water canons to disperse farmers marching towards the national capital. An estimated 10,000 individuals, along with 1,200 tractors and wagons, have amassed at the Shambhu border crossing, according to a police statement.

Visuals from the scene showed farmers, alongside heavy machinery like cranes and excavators, attempting to breach the barricades set up by authorities at the Punjab-Haryana border.

Security has been ramped up at entry points to Delhi, which is about 200 km from Shambhu, with highways blocked by multiple layers of concrete barriers, barbed wire fences, and nail strips.

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Puja Das
Puja Das is a New Delhi based reporter, covering food, farm, fertiliser, water, and climate change policies for Mint. Puja reports on food security, farmers' distress and how the agriculture sector is impacting India's rural economy along with policy initiatives to help meet the pledges made at COP21 in Paris. Puja holds a post-graduation degree in Broadcast Journalism from the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, Bangalore.
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Published: 21 Feb 2024, 07:48 PM IST
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