NEW DELHI — Farmers in India held protests against three farm laws at the Jantar Mantar, a historical observatory located in the Indian capital Delhi, on July 22 after the Delhi Police permitted them.

The farmers are demanding the scrapping of three agricultural laws. The Delhi Police allowed the protest after ensuring they would not march towards Parliament currently in session.

The Delhi government permitted farmers to hold their protest, subject to following all Covid-19 protocols.

After the protest started, India’s Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar urged them to leave the path of agitation and come for talks.

Farmers have been protesting on the different borders of the national capital since Nov. 26, 2020, against three farm laws — Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

Farmer leaders and the government have held several rounds of talks, but the impasse remains.

In a statement issued late on July 21, Delhi Police said police would escort the farmers to the designated protest site at Jantar Mantar from the Singhu border, the village in the North West Delhi district of the National Capital Region that borders Indian state Haryana, in buses.

Only those farmers who have identification cards were permitted at the protest site, and at the end of the day, around 5 pm, the police were to escort the farmers on the buses as they return to the Singhu border.

Farmers have also been advised not to take out any march because of Covid-19 restrictions, and they have been asked to observe appropriate Covid-19 behavior and social distancing.

“Delhi Police has put in place extensive arrangements to ensure that the protest program remains peaceful,” the Delhi Police said in its statement.

“After multiple rounds of negotiations with farmers bodies Sanyukt Kisan Morcha and Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, and on being assured in writing that they would remain peaceful and with the approval of Delhi Disaster Management Authority, the farmers have been permitted to protest at Jantar Mantar with limited numbers not exceeding 200 persons for Sanyukt Kisan Morcha and six persons for Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee from 11 am up to 5 pm daily.”

Meanwhile, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, which is under the Delhi government, has allowed farmers to stage the protest between 11 am and 5 pm from July 22 to August 9, subject to a maximum of 200 protesters per day.

“A group of 200 farmers will go in four buses to hold ‘Kisan Sansad’ at Parliament Street where we will discuss the agrarian crisis, the three farm laws, and minimum support price,” said farmer leader Darshan Pal Singh.

“We have constituted a six-member steering committee which will include three members from Punjab.”

The minimum support price is an agricultural product price set by the Government of India to purchase directly from the farmer.

Security was heightened in the national capital with personnel deployed at Jantar Mantar. On July 21, Delhi Police Special Commissioner of Police (Crime) Satish Golcha, Joint Commissioner of Police Jaspal Singh, and Commissioner of Police Balaji Srivastava visited Jantar Mantar to review security arrangements.

Apart from the main highway, all routes leading to Delhi have been put under surveillance and monitored around the clock.

Delhi Police said they are not taking any chances after what happened on Jan. 26 and have made appropriate arrangements.

Delhi had witnessed violent protests during a tractor parade on Republic Day as thousands of agitators clashed with the police.

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Amrita Das and Praveen Pramod Tewari)



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