Explained: Why are farmers protesting in Delhi, what is it all about?
New Delhi, Nov 30: Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday met Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar for the second time in less than 24 hours after farmers protesting near Delhi borders on Sunday rejected the centre's proposal of holding early talks and shifting their protest venue.
On Saturday, the Home Minister met Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Tomar at BJP chief JP Nadda's Delhi house, sources said. The top BJP leaders held discussions on the protests by thousands of farmers that began last week. The meeting - held as the protesters threatened to block five entry points to Delhi - reportedly went on for over two hours.
Several farmers have reached the national capital on their tractors and other vehicles, responding to the "Delhi Chalo" call against the agri-marketing laws enacted at the Centre in September.
On Saturday morning, it was not clear if the farmers will agree to move to the Burari ground on the outskirts of the city, where police said they can continue with their protest. Many protesters were demanding a better venue in the centre of Delhi. Originally, the protest was meant to be on November 26 and 27.
On the first day, on Thursday, several farmers crossed from Punjab to Haryana. At border points, the Haryana Police tried to stop them, using water cannons and teargas. Later, they were allowed through. There were skirmishes with police at other points as well on the highway to Delhi as it passed through BJP-run Haryana.
On the second day, protesters assembled at Delhi's border at Tigri and Singhu. Police used teargas and water cannons to stop them from breaking through barricades, which included sand-laden trucks. In the evening, they offered to let them into the city and continue their protest at Burari ground. But many appeared reluctant.
On the third day, the standoff continued on Saturday morning at Delhi's border. More farmers were making their way from Punjab and Haryana.
Meanwhile, farmer unions in Punjab and Haryana fear the recent laws enacted at the Centre, alleging that it will dismantle the minimum support price (MSP) system. Also, it is reportedly said that big corporate houses will dictate terms and farmers will end up getting less for their crops.
Farmers fear that with the virtual disbanding of the mandi system, they will not get an assured price for their crops and the "arthiyas" -- commission agents who also pitch in with loans for them -- will be out of business.
The key demand of the farmers is the withdrawal of the three laws which deregulate the sale of their crops. The farmer unions could also settle for a legal assurance that the MSP system will continue, ideally through an amendment to the laws.
They are also pressing for the withdrawal of the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020, fearing it will lead to an end to subsidised electricity. Farmers say rules against stubble burning should also not apply to them.