India Police block roads into Delhi, stop farmers disrupting budget day

Indian Police and paramilitary on Monday dug ditches, spread razor wire across roads into New Delhi.

This is to prevent protesting farmers from entering the capital as the nation prepares to deliver its annual budget.

Internet and messaging services were blocked in several neighbourhoods on the outskirts where protests turned violent.

Security was stepped up around parliament and other important government offices in the central district.

A senior official, who wished to remain anonymous in line with official policy, said “the government has increased security to avoid any clash or violence when parliament is in session.

“The idea is to keep everyone safe and avoid any escalation in tensions.’’

A farmers’ procession turned violent on Jan. 26, when India celebrated its Republic Day with a military parade.

Some protesters broke away from a rally of tractors to storm into the historic Red Fort complex after breaking through barricades and clashing with the Police.

On Friday, authorities used tear gas and batons to break up clashes at one of the protest sites near the city.

Furthermore, in the past few days, more farmers had arrived along with their tractors to join their protesting colleagues at the three major protest sites near New Delhi.

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a radio address on Sunday, said “the country was saddened by the insult to the Tricolour (Indian flag) on the 26th of January in Delhi.

“The government is committed to modernising agriculture and is also taking many steps in that direction’’.

The farmers, however, want the government to withdraw three new farm reforms introduced in September 2020, alleging they would hurt their livelihoods and benefit large private produce buyers.

The government said the reforms would open up new opportunities for farmers and it had invited farmer leaders for fresh talks to end the deadlock.

Although Modi remains India’s most popular politician, his standing in the rural areas, where most Indians live, could be damaged by his handling to the farmers’ two-month-old agitation.

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