After two months of farmer protests, police forces in the national capital seek to bolster security at the key border points of Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur. Spurred on by the added restrictions and the neglect of the agriculture sector in the Budget, the farmers announce another rally soon, reports SIDDHARTH GANGULY.
AFTER violent clashes between police and farmers on January 26, additional security measures are being implemented at key protest sites in the capital to restrict the movements of the protesting farmers.
Construction workers were seen fixing iron bars between cement barricades along the main highway on the Singhu border between Delhi and Haryana. A makeshift cement wall has also been erected on another portion of the highway and a small trench dug on a side-street near the protest site.
These barricades add to the slew of measures to curb the protests which include suspension of internet services and cutting off of water and power supplies at the three key border sites of Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur. Farmers alleged that trains are being diverted to ensure more farmers cannot join the ranks of those at the protest sites.
Yet, the protestors remain undeterred, taking to Twitter to announce the blocking of various highways for three hours from noon on February 6.
6 फरवरी को पूरे भारत में 12 से 3 चक्का जाम करेंगे किसान
किसान संयुक्त मोर्चे#Budget2021
— PUNJAB KISAN UNION (@PKUPunjab) February 1, 2021
Agri Sector Undermined in Budget
This move was spurred on not only by the additional restrictions being placed on the farmers but also in response to the Union Budget announcements.
The Finance Minister’s claims of “doubling farmer incomes” and guaranteeing Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) of 1.5 times the cost of inputs have been seen by the farmers as “hollow promises” lacking any evidence. Moreover, complaints that only a fraction of farmers actually receive the benefits of MSP have gone unheeded.
The government’s failure to expand the PM-Kisan scheme and the neglect of the price allocation schemes enumerated under the PM-Fasal Bima Yojna have also not sat well with farmers.
These oversights, in conjunction with the reduction of the share of agriculture and allied activities in the Budget from 5.1% in 2020-21 to 4.3% in 2021-22 (falling from ₹1.54 to ₹1.48 lakh crore in monetary terms) have cemented the belief in the minds of some farmers that they are not a priority for the government, inciting them to carry on with the movement until their demands are met.
(Siddharth Ganguly is a final year journalism student at Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune, and an intern with The Leaflet.)