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As Anarchist Farmer Unions Refuse to Call Off March to Parliament on Budget Day, What Lies Ahead for Stir

Farmers, who met with a setback after their tractor rally turned violent at Red Fort on Republic Day, have expressed their determination to continue with the protests demanding repeal of the Centre’s farm laws. The farmer unions have also said that they had no plans of delaying or abandoning their march to the Parliament on Budget day. However, the government will soon question the farmers over their protest march that turned ugly on Tuesday, January 26.

Tens of thousands of protesters clashed with police in multiple places, leading to chaos in well known landmarks of Delhi and suburbs, amid waves of violence that ebbed and flowed through the day, leaving the farmers’ two-month peaceful movement in tatters.

Twenty-two FIRs have been registered in connection with the violence during the rally yesterday, said the Delhi Police on Wednesday morning. An FIR was also registered at the Indraprastha (IP) Police Station against unidentified protesters including the farmer who died after his tractor overturned after ramming into a barricade, said the police.

ALSO READ | Farmers’ Republic Day Tractor Parade: Tableaux to Depict Protest Against Agri Laws

During a high-level meeting chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah and attended by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava on Tuesday, Shah directed Delhi Police officials to take action against those involved in the violence. About 1,500 to 2,000 additional paramilitary personnel will also be brought in for deployment in sensitive places in the national capital, reported PTI.

The home minister reviewed the situation after hundreds of protesting farmers on tractors barrelled through police barricades to enter central Delhi areas, including Red Fort and ITO.

Farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at several Delhi border points, including Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur, since November 28, demanding a complete repeal of three farm laws and a legal guarantee on minimum support price for their crops.

READ | Farmer Unions Call Off Tractor Parade After Violence at Red Fort; High Alert Issued in Punjab and Haryana

As several rounds of talks with the government reached stalemate and failed to resolve the deadlock, farmers continued to protest against the Centre’s three agri laws. Union Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar had said that the next round of talks would only happen when the farmers were ready to talk on the government’s proposal of staying the laws for 1.5 years.

Union leaders do not appear ready to give up on their demand to repeal the laws and legal guarantee to minimum support price (MSP). The unions will in any case want to wait to see how opposition parties take up the stir in the Budget session, which begins on Friday.

A recent survey conducted by the News18 Network had found a majority of Indians support the implementation of the new laws and think the agitation by farmers should be called off. In the survey, conducted across 22 states with more than 2,400 respondents, a majority believed that the new farm reform laws would benefit crop growers, and data showed that support for the new legislations was strong in most agrarian states, especially in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

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