Tear Gas Used At Punjab-Haryana Border, Centre Calls Farmers For Talks Again

Protesting farmers and the government met in Chandigarh Sunday evening for a fourth round of talks, from which the five-year, A2+FL+ 50 per cent contract offer emerged.

Delhi Farmers Protest: Farmers have been protesting the MSP issue since the 2020/21 agitation (File).

New Delhi: Tear gas shells were fired this morning at the Punjab-Haryana border, where thousands of farmers have gathered to march on a heavily fortified Delhi after rejecting the government's offer of a five-year MSP contract. A fifth round of talks is likely.

Here are the Top 10 points in this big story:

  1. Farmer groups have formed a human chain at the Shambhu border crossing. Dramatic visuals from the area show the two sides lined up against the other - on one side is an army of heavy earth-moving machines, or JCBs, and tractors, and on the other are the security forces, including paramilitary personnel with riot gear and equipment.

  2. Haryana Police have already fired one round of tear gas, and have warned the farmers - who number around 10,000 with 1,200 tractors/trolleys - to stand down. The farmers, a police statement said, are also "arming youth with sticks, stones, face masks (to protect against the tear gas) and iron shields to attack" security personnel.

  3. The state's police force has also ramped up measures to stop farmers from reaching Delhi, which is around 200 km from Shambhu. This includes blocking highways with multiple layers of concrete barriers, barbed wire fences, and even nail strips, to stop tractors.

  4. The farmers, though, appear undaunted and, in a moment of innovation, constructed a makeshift 'tank' Tuesday evening - a JCB machine on a tractor with the driver/operator cabins covered with iron sheets as protection from tear gas shells and rubber pellets. 

  5. Security around Delhi has been heightened also, with key border crossings, including Ghazipur, Tikri, Noida, and Singhu blocked with rows of metal and cement barriers. Police have deployed LRADs, or Long Range Acoustic Devices, or crowd-control sound cannons, and imposed a month-long ban on public gatherings.

  6. Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda has called for another round of talks. "After the fourth round, the government is ready to discuss all issues... including MSP (minimum support price). I invite all farmer leaders for talks." Mr Munda - who told NDTV "unruly elements are looking to hijack talks" - has also urged farmers to ensure a peaceful protest.

  7. On Monday evening farmer leaders snubbed the government's offer to buy maize, cotton, and three types of pulses - toor, urad, and masoor - at the old MSP. They said it did not make sense as it applied to only a few crops, and ignored those growing the other 18.

  8. The farmers said the price - based on the A2+FL+50 per cent formula (MSP at 1.5 times direct costs, such as seeds and fertilisers, and unpaid family labour), and not the Swaminathan Commission's C2+50 per cent formula (which includes rent for farm land, or the rental value of owned land) - would be "subsistence" payments and not "income".

  9. They were also unhappy with a clause that said MSP would only be for those opting for crop diversification. "We have, thus, decided to reject the proposal..." one farmer leader told NDTV.

  10. Apart from MSP, the farmers also want loan waivers, no hike in electricity tariffs, and withdrawal of police cases from 2020/21. They also want a public sector crop insurance scheme, a monthly pension of Rs 10,000 to farmers over 60, and that Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni prosecuted over the Lakhimpur Kheri incident.

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