11:06 GMT27 February 2021
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    India's capital New Delhi was the scene of mayhem at the Red Fort as the country celebrated its 72nd Republic Day on 26 January. During a planned tractor rally, police and protesting farmers clashed at various points in the city, leaving about 400 policemen injured.

    The Delhi Police have reinforced security measures as the farmers' Chakka Jam (Nationwide Highway Blockade) approaches, officials said on Friday. Farmers have scheduled the nationwide highway blockade to take place between 12 noon. and 3 p.m. (local time) on Saturday. 

    Speaking to Sputnik, a senior Delhi police official said that they have received intelligence that farmers may try to enter Delhi from several borders during their Chakka Jam and preventing them may lead to further clashes.

    "We are leaving no stone unturned after what happened on Republic Day (26 January), where farmers and /protesters clashed with policemen leaving around 400 officers injured. We have received information that the protesters might try to break into Delhi, for which we have strengthened security arrangements, drafted more security personnel, while borders will remain closed," the officer added.  

    Delhi Police spokesman Chinmoy Biswal said whenever a rally is planned the police increase their presence to maintain law and order and avoid inconvenience to the public.

    At the moment more than 60 companies (6,000 personnel) of central paramilitary forces along with several hundred policemen are on duty at the borders. Besides, the Indian home ministry has informed the Delhi Police about availability of additional central paramilitary forces on standby if required.

    On Thursday, Amit Shah, India’s Minister of Home Affairs, met national security adviser Ajit Doval and Delhi Police commissioner SN Shrivastava to review the security situation.

    Meanwhile, speaking to Sputnik, the national spokesman of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, Rakesh Tikait, who is also the poster boy for the farmers' demonstration, said that they will block the highways in their respective states.

    "We will not be entering Delhi. We have held village-level meetings and deputed special security volunteers to avert any clashes with security forces," Tikait said. 

    He further mentioned that if anyone gets stuck during the Chakka Jam, they will be served water and food by the farmers. 

    "We will also explain to them the reason for our protest and what the government is doing with us. We are going to hold a very peaceful protest,” Tikait said.

    Over the past 60 days, thousands of farmers have been protesting on the outskirts of the Indian capital and have blocked roads in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana states. They demand a complete revocation of the farm laws recently passed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government.

    Farmers are protesting against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020.

    According to the government, the laws allow farmers to sell their produce at places apart from their designated APMC market. They also aim at allowing contract farming under which they can enter into supply agreements with private firms for remunerative and pre-decided prices. 

    Farmers believe that the new laws would pave the way for dismantling the minimum support price system (MSP), leaving them at the mercy of big retailers.

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