Thousands of farmers in India have been protesting on the outskirts of Delhi since November, demanding that three new farm laws passed by the Modi government last September be scrapped.
With no access to toilets, drinking water, and Internet connection, the farmers at the protest sites have called the situation “harassing”.
“Blockade has forced farmers to pee in the open. There is only one portable toilet for about 800 farmers available at this location”, Gangandeep Singh, hailing from the northern Indian city of Ludhiana and who has been part of the Singu border protests since 26 November, told Sputnik.
Earlier this week, the Delhi Police put additional barricades, cement slabs, barbed wire, and metal nails at all three protest locations — Singhu, Tikri, and Ghazipur.
Since the police blockade, the protestors at the Singhu border have been divided into camps over a two-kilometre area. The dividers are put in place in a way that the farmers protesting at one base cannot meet the farmers across the road or even 200 metres away. The Singhu border, which has emerged as the largest protest site, has roughly 100 portable toilets in all. The Ghazipur border has about 20 portable toilets.
“Is it not harassment? The government wants us to quit the protest and leave. But, we will be here, till the black farm laws are taken back”, Singh added.
On Tuesday, Delhi Police chief S. N. Shrivastava, while justifying the extra barricading, said all this was done after farmers on 26 January broke the barricading and attacked police personnel.
“This is to strengthen the barricades so nobody can break them again”, the police chief said.
The Delhi Police claimed that large convoys of protesting farmers in tractor trolleys on 26 January tried to furiously force their way through and go past police barricades to enter Delhi to mark their protest against the recently enacted farm laws. Delhi Police had used tear gas, water cannons and mild force to control the crowd.
The three new farm laws that farmers are demanding be scrapped are: the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce; the Farmers Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services; and the Amendment to the Essential Commodities Act, 2020.