Thousands of farmers from India's Haryana and Punjab states are marching towards the capital Delhi, where they plan to observe 26 May as "Black Day" to marks six months since their protests against the "Black Laws" begun.
The farmers are being spearheaded by Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Gurnam Singh Charuni.
"The farmers have set off from Karnal so that the agitation in various districts of Delhi is well represented," Charuni said.
Meanwhile, 12 opposition parties have also lent their support to the protesting farmers.
— Rishikesh Kumar (@rishhikesh) May 23, 2021
Both states – Haryana and Punjab – are currently under lockdown due to rising COVID cases in recent days. Haryana, governed by the BJP's Manohar Lal Khattar, has blamed the farmers for the surge in infections in the rural areas of the state, while the federal government has blamed the demonstrators for the rise in cases in Punjab.
Since 26 November, highways leading to Delhi have been blocked by the farmers in India's Uttar Pradesh and Haryana states. They're protesting against three laws passed by Prime Minister Modi-led government: 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 Indian Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar, the farmers have been misled. He claimed the laws would allow the farmers to sell their crops anywhere in India apart from their designated APMC market. Under the new laws, the farmers can pursue contract farming as they are allowed to enter into supply agreements with private entities and sign agreements with corporate houses after negotiating pre-decided prices for their produce.
"Farmers are being misled that others would occupy their land if these laws are implemented. Let me know if there is a single provision in Contract Farming law which allows any trader to snatch away the land of any farmer," the Indian Agriculture Minister said in Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Parliament.
The farmers believe that the new laws leave them at the mercy of big corporations. Furthermore, they allege that these laws will destroy the decades-old MSP system, making them completely dependent on private players who will then dictate the terms while buying their crops.