Thousands of farmers have been protesting since late November.
Thousands of farmers will take out a tractor rally to block the Delhi-Jaipur highway on Sunday, demonstrators protesting the centre's new agricultural laws said on Saturday, vowing to intensify their agitation despite a fresh message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the new legislations. Protesters will also hold a nationwide demonstration at all district offices on Monday and hold a hunger strike from 8 am to 5 pm, they said. Thousands of policemen were stationed near Delhi's borders to stop them from blocking major highways and taking over more roads into the capital. Defending the centre's reforms again, PM Modi on Saturday morning said: "We've taking all these initiatives to increase the farmers' income and make them more prosperous. Today, farmers of India can sell their produce both at the mandis, as well as outside."
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More than 1,000 policemen were posted on Gurgaon's border with Delhi and 3,500 policemen in Faridabad to block the movement of protesters after they said they will occupy Delhi-Jaipur highway. Police in large numbers also stopped groups of hundreds of farmers from blocking the main highway from Delhi to Agra.
Dramatic visuals showed protesters - backed by the Bharatiya Kisaan Union - shouting slogans after they occupied toll plazas on highways, allowing vehicles to pass without paying toll fee. Some farmers were detained on the expressway to Agra, news agency AFP reported.
PM Modi assured farmers on Saturday that the reforms in the agrarian sector were aimed at helping them. "Reforms will help draw investment in agriculture and benefit farmers," he said at the annual meeting of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi.
The farmers, however, said they want nothing less than the new laws to be scrapped. A petition was filed on Friday in the Supreme Court by the Bharatiya Kisan Union that sought repeal them. The top court has already issued notices to the centre on a batch of petitions challenging the laws.
With the deadlock over the new legislations entering the third week, the ruling BJP has planned a massive campaign across the country. As part of the big push from the ruling party over the next few days, 100 press conferences and 700 farmers' meets have been planned in 700 districts, sources in the party said.
On Friday, protesters dismissed claims that their agitation were influenced by "ultra-left". "We reject this claim of the government. No one can influence us. This is the government's propaganda to defame us. All the decisions are taken by the Samyukt Kisan Union," Raminder Singh Patiyal, president of one of the 32 demonstrating groups Kirti Kisan Sangathan, said.
In Haryana, Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala, a BJP ally, on Friday said he would resign from his post if he is unable to secure the minimum support price (MSP) guarantee for farmers. "Our party's national president already made it clear that MSP must be ensured to farmers. The written proposals given by the Central government to the protesting farmers include a provision for MSPs. I will work to secure MSP for farmers as long as I am in power," he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Earlier this week, the protesters unanimously rejected the centre's written offer of amendments in farm laws, and announced a series of plans to escalate their protest. By December 14, there will be a full-scale protest across the country, they said.
A meeting with Amit Shah earlier this week failed to resolve the deadlock. After the meeting, the sixth of consultations between the farmers and protesters was cancelled.
Thousands of farmers have been camping on the outskirts of Delhi since late November. They say the new laws will leave them at the mercy of corporates even as the government repeatedly assured the legislations bring much-needed reforms.