“We tried our best to solve our problems through discussions with the government, but they are insistent on oppressing us,” Sarwan Singh Pandher, a top farmers’ union official from Punjab, told reporters.
The farmers are demanding a law to fix a minimum price for their crops, besides a clutch of other concessions including waiving off loans.
“The government should listen to the farmers instead of using tear gas shells and guns against them,” said Randeep Surjewala, an opposition Congress MP from Haryana, where many of the protesting farmers come from.
Farmers have called for a “Delhi Chalo”, or “March to Delhi”, echoing protests in January 2021 when farmers breached barricades and marched into the city on Republic Day.
Protests by farmers against agricultural reform bills in November 2020 lasted for more than a year, forming the biggest challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government since it came to power in 2014.
Tens of thousands of farmers then set up makeshift camps, with at least 700 people killed during the protests.
In November 2021, a year after protests began, Modi pushed through parliament the repeal of three contentious laws that farmers claimed would let private companies control the country’s agriculture sector.
Thousands of Indian farmers die by suicide every year because of poverty, debt and crops affected by ever-more erratic weather patterns caused by climate change.
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