Thousands of farmers from Punjab and Haryana gathered on the outskirts of the joint capital on Sunday, launching a three-day protest concerning demands conceded by the Centre on December 9, 2021. Anticipating an extended demonstration, the protesters arrived well-prepared, hauling vegetables, flour, lentils, and cooking oil on their tractor-trailers.
Organized under the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), farmer unions issued a nationwide call for this protest, coinciding with the third anniversary of the 'Dilli Chalo' movement. The focus remains on unmet demands, particularly the assurance of a minimum support price (MSP) guarantee law.
This time, the agitation is labeled 'Chandigarh Chalo,' with the intent to stage a protest in front of the Raj Bhavans of Punjab and Haryana in Chandigarh. Farmers, ranging from men and women to students, have converged on the borders of Mohali in Punjab and Panchkula in Haryana, bringing together a diverse group of protesters.
The police forces from both states and Chandigarh are out in full force, securing borders to prevent an unauthorized entry into Chandigarh. Fortunately, there haven't been reports of violence or the use of force to disperse the protesters.
Setting up makeshift camps and kitchens, the assembled farmers are prepared for an extended stay. Darshan Pal, a member of the coordination committee of the SKM, asserted that the farm unions will proceed towards the Raj Bhavans to express their discontent with the Union government's failure to meet their demands.
Should the need arise, the agitation might extend indefinitely. Sarbjit Singh, a farmer from Khanna town, mentioned, "We are carrying rations that can last up to two months," echoing the determination seen during the year-long protest at the Delhi border points.
Gurdev Singh, an octogenarian farmer, shared his resolve, stating, "Like the year-long protest at the Delhi border points, we are now ready for a similar protest on the borders of Chandigarh," as he camped with his sons, grandsons, and granddaughters.
Apart from the MSP guarantee law, the farmer unions are also demanding compensation for crops damaged due to pest attacks and floods in Punjab and Haryana. Both state police forces have issued travel advisories, cautioning commuters to avoid specific road stretches along Chandigarh borders in light of the ongoing protests.