11:11 GMT25 January 2021
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    Several thousand farmers from the states of Punjab and Haryana began marching towards the national capital Delhi earlier this week, protesting the government's agricultural market liberalisation laws. Battling water cannons and tear-gas shells, the farmers entered Delhi last evening and are currently demonstrating in the city's North-West.

    Farmers from three agricultural states – Madhya Pradesh (MP), Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Uttarakhand on Saturday are poised to join protesters from Punjab and Haryana in India's capital. Given the ongoing pandemic and the Delhi police saying that they wouldn't allow the newest wave of protesting farmers into the city, a plausible stand-off on Delhi's borders is also expected. 

    Police officers use water cannon to disperse farmers protesting against the newly passed farm bills at Singhu border near Delhi, India
    © REUTERS / ANUSHREE FADNAVIS
    Police officers use water cannon to disperse farmers protesting against the newly passed farm bills at Singhu border near Delhi, India

    Farmers passed through cities like Agra, Kurukshetra and Singhu, among others, in their march towards Delhi earlier this week as part of the “Dilli Chalo” (Let’s go to Delhi) protests.

    The three laws passed during the monsoon session of the parliament in September that are being opposed by the farmers are -  The 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. 

    Farmers shout slogans as they burn an effigy during a protest against the newly passed farm bills at Singhu border near Delhi
    © REUTERS / DANISH SIDDIQUI
    Farmers shout slogans as they burn an effigy during a protest against the newly passed farm bills at Singhu border near Delhi

    The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce Bill 2020 directs farmers to sell their produce at places aside from their designated Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) markets. The APMC is a state-government-backed marketing board that ensures that farmers are safeguarded from exploitation by large retailers. 

    The Farmers Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill is aimed to facilitate contract farming projects to the farmers, by virtue of which they can enter into supply agreements with private firms for remunerative and pre-decided prices.

    Meanwhile, the amendment to the Essential Commodities Act is aimed at removing stock limits on farm produce so that traders maintain stock freely without fear of hoarding charges.

    Farmers push a cement pipe to use it as a roadblock during a protest against the newly passed farm bills at Singhu border near Delhi
    © REUTERS / DANISH SIDDIQUI
    Farmers push a cement pipe to use it as a roadblock during a protest against the newly passed farm bills at Singhu border near Delhi

    These three new laws have not been received well by the agricultural communities in India. Opponents contend that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is backing away from its role as a price guarantor by allowing produce pricing to be influenced by market forces.

    The farmers, organised under the aegis of 30 farm associations, are protesting the aforementioned laws, particularly the Farmers Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill and the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce Bill.

    Security personnel stand behind concrete barriers to stop farmers opposing the newly passed farm bills from entering the national capital Delhi, at Singhu border, India
    © REUTERS / DANISH SIDDIQUI
    Security personnel stand behind concrete barriers to stop farmers opposing the newly passed farm bills from entering the national capital Delhi, at Singhu border, India

    Thousands of farmers were finally allowed to enter Delhi on the evening of 27 November on the condition that the protests would be peaceful.

    Delhi Police personnel have been heavily deployed along the borders of the national capital region (NCR) to keep the situation in order.

    © REUTERS / DANISH SIDDIQUI
    A policeman chases away a farmer during a protest against the newly passed farm bills at Singhu border near Delhi, India
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