The Haryana police and the protesting farmers on Sunday came close to a clash at the Rewari-Alwar border after hundreds of protesters started marching towards Delhi to join the main agitation against the centre's contentious agriculture laws. According to reports, the police fired several rounds of tear gas shells to halt the march.
The farmers were trying to breach the police cordon and barricades to move further, sources said. The police have managed to halt them at a local over-bridge. "We have stopped them at Masani," Rewari police chief, Abhishek Jorwal, was quoted by news agency PTI as saying.
In November last year, thousands of farmers from Punjab had to brave water cannons and tear gas shells as the Haryana police tried to stop their protest march to Delhi. The two sides were involved in several clashes on the way.
Meanwhile, in Punjab's Sangrur district, the police today lathi-charged a group of farmers that was trying to march towards a meeting chaired by the state BJP president, Ashwani Kumar Sharma.
The fresh push comes a day before the next round of farmer-centre meeting to end the deadlock.
After the sixth round of the farmer-centre talks last week, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar had said that the two sides arrived at an "agreement" on two of the four main demands. The government, sources said, offered to withdraw the Electricity Amendment Bill and the penal provisions for stubble burning in the Air Quality Commission Ordinance. However, no progress had been made on the farmers' main demands -- repealing the three laws and giving legal guarantee for the minimum support price system.
Farmers have threatened to intensify the protests if the centre declines the remaining two demands at the January 4 meeting. They have warned that they will take out a tractor march on the GT-Karnal road on January 6.
A joint front of 40 farmer unions, which has been leading the protests, has also threatened to march towards Delhi if the demands are not met by the Republic Day.
"The government has refused to agree, even in principle, to our demand for legal right to purchase at MSP. We have no alternative and if the government does not meet our demand by the 26th of January; we will be left with no option other than to start marching peacefully into Delhi," their statement said on Saturday.
Farmers fear the laws will make them susceptible to exploitation by corporate houses. They also claim that through these laws, the centre wants to scrap the minimum support price system.
The government, however, says the laws are not aimed at ending the existing system but providing better avenues to farmers to sell their crops. It has promised that the MSP system will not be scrapped.