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Farmers protest: Congress’s MSP promise; tear gas lobbed at Shambhu, Khanauri borders | 10 points

As agitating farmers head to the national capital, Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday promised to give a legal guarantee of minimum support price on crops as per the Swaminathan Commission report if the Congress party is voted to power in 2024. Calling the day ‘historic’, Rahul Gandhi, who is leading Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Chhattisgarh, said that the step to provide legal guarantee to MSP will change the lives of 15 crore farmer families.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleged the BJP-led central government was using tear gas against farmers and lodging them in jails instead of accepting their just demand on Minimum Support Price (MSP).

“Farmer brothers, today is a historic day!” Rahul Gandhi said in a post in Hindi.

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“Congress has decided to give legal guarantee of MSP to every farmer on crops as per Swaminathan Commission. This step will change the lives of 15 crore farmer families by ensuring their prosperity,” Gandhi said, calling it the “first guarantee of Congress on the path of justice.”

Police fired tear gas to stop thousands of farmers demanding minimum crop prices from marching on the capital New Delhi after talks with the government failed. Thick clouds of tear gas were fired to disperse protesters at the Shambhu border near Ambala, about 200 kilometres north of the capital, with police also dropping canisters from the air by drones.

A blockade of metal spikes, cement, and steel barricades has been set up on the highways from three surrounding states leading to New Delhi.

Here are the latest updates from farmers’ protest:

  1. Tensions escalated when some youths broke barricades at the Ghaggar river bridge, prompting police to respond with tear gas. Protesting farmers attempted to minimise the impact of tear gas shells by covering them with jute bags and using wet clothes.
  2. Congress MLA Sukhpal Khaira arrived at the Shambhu barrier to show solidarity with the protesting farmers.
  3. At the Khanauri border near Haryana’s Jind, the confrontation between Punjab farmers and Haryana police escalated, marked by the firing of tear gas shells. The demonstrators claimed that a farmer was injured in the tear gas shell firing.
  4. At least 15 sand-laden dumpers, cranes, 200 barricades, drones and barbed wires along with 150-200 policemen in anti-rioting gears were on stand-by on the Gurugram-Delhi border on the NH-48 near Sirhaul to block any possible attempt by farmers to move towards Delhi.
  5. Farmers from Trichy, Tamil Nadu, have joined the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march in solidarity with Punjab farmers. They expressed support by holding human skeletons and lying on the road, while some climbed a mobile phone tower.
  6. The Red Fort complex has been temporarily closed for visitors due to security reasons amid a massive deployment of police and paramilitary forces in central Delhi. The closure was abrupt and is expected to remain in place until security agencies deem it safe to reopen.
  7. Traffic in the Delhi-National Capital Region came to a crawl as police implemented multiple layers of barricades, halting vehicle movement at the Singhu and Tikri borders to deter the farmers’ march towards the city. Commuters endured significant delays and frustration as heavy security measures, including personnel in anti-riot gear and metal and concrete barricades, were deployed throughout Delhi.
  8. Many gates have been shut at key Delhi Metro stations such as Rajiv Chowk, Mandi House, Central Secretariat, Patel Chowk, Udyog Bhawan, Janpath, Barakhamba Road, and Khan Market. However, the stations themselves remain open, and passengers can still enter and exit through other gates.
  9. Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud assured lawyers facing traffic congestion due to farmers’ protests in Delhi that the bench would accommodate them during proceedings. This assurance came during the morning session as the court convened to hear cases.
  10. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee strongly condemned the firing of tear gas shells at protesting farmers in Haryana, labelling it as a “brutal assault” by the BJP. She expressed disbelief that such violence against farmers could occur while they fight for their fundamental rights.

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