Thousands of farmers from across the country, who have been camping at the Ramlila ground here since Thursday, began their march to Parliament Street on Friday amid heavy policy deployment, to press for their demands, including debt relief and remunerative prices for their produce.
Over 3,500 police personnel have deployed on the route of the march. According to a senior police officer, special arrangements have been made in Central and New Delhi police districts.
As many as 850 police personnel, up to the rank of sub-inspectors, have been deployed in the Central district. They have been augmented by the presence of 12 police companies, including two of women, each comprising 75-80 personnel, a police official said.
In New Delhi district, 346 police personnel, up to the rank of sub-inspectors, have been deployed and 600 personnel from other districts will also help them, the official said.
Nine police companies, along with 71 officers, from the rank of inspectors up to additional DCPs, are also present.
Farmers from different parts of the country, including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh converged at the Ramlila ground on Thursday.
Traffic was disrupted in many parts of the city on Thursday as the farmers marched to the Ramlila ground in the heart of the city on four different routes, starting from Anand Vihar, Nizamuddin and Bijwasan railway stations and Sabzi Mandi.
Banded under the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), which claims to be an umbrella body of 207 organisations of farmers and agricultural workers, many farmers arrived in the city on Thursday, on trains, buses and other modes of transport.
Kamla, a functionary of the All India Kisan Sabha’s Delhi unit, said farmers from nearby areas converged at Majnu Ka Tila on the outskirts of Delhi from where they marched in groups to Ramlila Maidan on Thursday.
About 1,200 members of the National South Indian River Interlinking Agriculturalists Association reached the national capital in the early hours of Thursday carrying skulls of two of their colleagues who had committed suicide, their leader P Ayyakannu claimed.
The group from Tamil Nadu had threatened to march naked if they are not allowed to go to Parliament on Friday.They had last year staged protests at Jantar Mantar with the skulls of eight farmers who killed themselves owing to losses.
The AIKSCC has claimed that the two-day rally will be one of the largest congregations of farmers in Delhi.
Five Gurdwaras in the Delhi region have extended their help to the farmers. Also students from various universities turned out in large numbers to lend support to the farmers. The protest also saw participation of a number of women farmers who travelled from various parts of the country.
Volunteers, including doctors, lawyers, professors and artists, all came out in large numbers to help the farmers. Around 600-700 volunteers of a solidarity group ‘Nation For Farmers’ marched with the protesters from the four assembly points.
The AIKSCC was formed under the aegis of All India Kisan Sabha and other Left-affiliated farmers’ bodies in June, 2017, following protests by farmers in states such as Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh for debt relief and remunerative prices.