India farmers
Police have set up barricades to block thousands of protesting farmers. Sajjad HUSSAIN via AFP / Sajjad HUSSAIN

Police officials in India's capital, Delhi, fired tear gas shells using drones and erected iron nails at the city's border to stop protesting farmers from continuing their march on Tuesday.

All entry points to Delhi have been barricaded to stop protesting farmers from entering the city. Barbed wires, concrete slabs, iron nails, and a huge number of paramilitary forces have been deployed to stop the march.

The farmers have taken to the streets over a list of demands that include a law on the minimum support price for crops and loan waivers. The agitation is being spearheaded by farmers' organisations such as the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (non-political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha.

Police used tear gas shells and hose pipes to scatter protesters at the Shambhu border near Ambala, situated approximately 200 kilometres north of the capital.

Several videos from the protest march have gone viral on social media. One such video showed an injured man being rushed to safety after he got hit in the eyes.

"This is a black day in Indian history. Tear gases, rubber bullets & water cannons were used against the farmers today. We will continue our protest with double intensity tomorrow," farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher told ANI.

Why are they protesting?

Thousands of farmers have come together to call for legislation to ensure a minimum support price (MSP) for all crops.

The MSP is the cost at which the government purchases crops from farmers. It ensures that farmers do not have to sell their produce in desperate circumstances and that they get the appropriate amount for their harvest amid market uncertainties.

They are also demanding debt waivers and pensions for farmers and farm labourers. They have also asked for an increase in daily wages and the number of days employment is provided under the government's MGNREGA scheme.

MGNREGA promises to give a minimum of 100 days of unskilled manual labour to rural households whose adult members volunteer for it. Protection of land, forests, and water sources belonging to tribal communities is also among the demands put forward by protesting farmers.

They have also demanded compensation for the farmers who died during the 2020–2021 protests and the dismissal of a Union minister whose son is accused of mowing down farmers in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri district in October 2021.

The 2020–2021 protests were held against three farm bills passed by the Indian government that allowed farmers to sell produce directly to bulk buyers and made contract farming easier.

The government was forced to withdraw the three bills in 2021. The government had then promised that they would set up a panel of farmers and state officials to find ways to ensure support prices for all crops. The protesters have accused the BJP government of not fulfilling the promise.