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India farmers march: What are their demands? Why is gov’t blocking roads?

Farmers are demanding a legal minimum price for their crops as they march to New Delhi and ask government to fulfill its promises.

Thousands of farmers on tractors and trucks are marching towards the Indian capital, New Delhi, to push the government to address their demands, including guaranteed prices for their produce and debt waivers.

Police in Haryana state, which borders Delhi, on Tuesday fired tear gas on farmers to prevent them from reaching the capital, which has been converted into a fortress, reviving memories of the 16-month-long agitation by the farmers two years ago. Multiple entry points to the capital have been sealed by erecting barriers of barbed wire, spikes and cement blocks.

Authorities have banned large gatherings in Delhi and suspended internet services in several Haryana districts ahead of the March to Delhi, called by farmers from Punjab and Haryana along with several other northern states.

Here is more to know about the protest:

Aside from organisations from Punjab and Haryana, unions from the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are also participating in the march as they demand government intervention to help the ailing agriculture sector, which is central to the country’s food security.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) and Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee are spearheading the protests. The organisers said more than 200 farm unions are participating in the March to Delhi.

The SKM played a key role in the 2020-2021 protests that forced Prime Minister Narendra Modi to repeal three farm laws that farmers feared would have benefitted corporations at their expense. Farmers have accused Modi’s government of failing to fulfill its promises to farmers