Thousands of Indian farmers are marching on New Delhi to protest the government’s failure to secure minimum prices for their crops. On Tuesday, Indian security forces fired tear gas on protesters near Ambala, north of New Delhi, in an attempt to prevent them from entering the city. The farmers called for a “Delhi Chalo” (a march on Delhi), which evokes their previous demonstration on January 26, 2021 when they forced police blockades to enter New Delhi.
The farmers in India have significant political influence due to their numbers and this threat of further protests comes ahead of national elections expected in April. Two-thirds of the population make a living from agriculture, which accounts for almost a fifth of the country’s GDP. Swaran Singh Pandher, leader of a national farmers’ association said that farmers across the country are ready to march on Delhi from Tuesday if the government does not meet their demands related to setting a minimum price for crops as well as pensions and debt cancellations.
As in France, farmers want rapid answers three months before the legislative elections in India. However, the last farmer protests lasted more than a year until fall 2021 and resulted in tens of thousands of protesters setting up makeshift camps and over 700 people being killed during the protests. The Indian government has deployed maximum strength to prevent any public gatherings with more than five people banned in the capital. Long convoys of tractors were heading towards New Delhi from neighboring states Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh according to televisions.