A group of farmers passed through security checks at Ramlila Maidan Thursday night, where over 20 security personnel were deployed to frisk the crowd.
Inside, thousands of farmers — many from regions unfamiliar with harsh winters — slept beneath a giant tent. People from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra and Bihar huddled together as temperature dipped, hugging their blankets and using bottles or towels as pillows.
“My husband gave me his blanket, I’m feeling quite cold. Most of us had brought blankets; those who didn’t were given blankets and sheets by organisers,” said Subamma from Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur.
In one corner of Ramlila Maidan, four farmers from UP, Haryana, Bihar and Punjab discussed whether the Rs 10 coin is valid in their state. The conversation soon turned to minimum support price. Dhirendar Singh from Punjab’s Mansa said, “Why should we farm if we are not even getting value of the produce?”
In another corner, Sumitra from Varanasi woke up to check if her belongings were safe. This is her first visit to Delhi. “The government has opened a cooperative in our village but it is of no use. When we take wheat to sell, they say it is of inferior quality,” she said.
Like her, most farmers said that middlemen, steady rise in input costs such as fuel, pesticides and fertilisers and even water, and slashing of subsidies has increased their burden.