Thousands of farmers, after facing tear gas, water cannons and heavy police action over the past three days, started gathering at a ground near the outskirts of Delhi today for a massive protest against new farm laws.
Action shifted to the “Nirankari Ground” in Burari in north Delhi, where farmers headed after several hours of confrontation with the police at different points on the capital’s border with Haryana.
In the afternoon, Delhi Police said the farmers would be escorted to a designated site for their protest.
“Farmers are coming from Punjab, Haryana and other states to protest against farm bills. For our farmer brothers, the Delhi government has made arrangements for water and other facilities,” Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) tweeted.
According to AAP MLA Raghav Chaddha, Mr Kejriwal was “personally monitoring” the arrangements at Burari, which included tents and food supplies.
Delhi ministers Satyendar Jain and Raghav Chaddha, the Vice Chairman of the Delhi water board, visited the site.
The police said liquor shops in the vicinity of the ground have been shut down.
Several groups of farmers from Punjab, however, remained at the border in west Delhi, saying they would move to Burari after more of their comrades arrived tomorrow.
These farmers, some with their families, prepared for an all-nighter with women cooking food on the streets.
The farmers are travelling with tractors and trucks carrying enough supplies for six months, prepared for the long haul in their fight against farm laws that the central government said would streamline the supply chain and allow farmers to sell their produce directly anywhere in the country.
Farmers are protesting against the laws because they believe they will be deprived of guaranteed minimum prices and that corporates will gain control over pricing.
Some 500 farmer bodies are believed to be participating in the “Delhi Chalo” protest.
In the past two days, farmers marching from six states – Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Kerala and Punjab -faced teargas, water cannons, dug up roads and barbed wire barricades as the Haryana government used heavy force to block them.