(Bloomberg) -- India’s capital is on high alert as it anticipates protests from farmers to begin Tuesday to demand guaranteed minimum crop prices, three years after a major demonstration forced the government to repeal a proposed farm laws reform.
In an order issued Monday, the Delhi police commissioner prohibited gatherings of more than four people, rallies, loudspeakers and even “verbal, written or electronic” speech which may breach public order. The restrictions will remain in force for 30 days across the city.
The farmers, who are expected to move through the state borders Tuesday and attempt to enter Delhi to put pressure on the government, will face barricaded highways and movement restrictions. Government officials are expected to hold talks with farmer leaders Monday evening to resolve the issue.
Thousands of farmers are planning to march toward Delhi in about 15,000 tractors, said Abhimanyu Kohar, a farmer leader from the northern Indian state of Haryana. They plan to congregate at Jantar Mantar, an 18th-century observatory and traditional protest point in Delhi, to demand loan waivers and guaranteed crop prices across the country, according to Kohar.
Indian authorities have barricaded roads with nails, concrete blocks and spiked rods, and issued advisories asking people to take alternative routes for travel. Internet was suspended in certain parts of the state of Haryana, according to local media.
The heavy-handed response to the protest comes after farmers went on strike for almost a year and blocked arterial roads leading into the capital. At the time, the farmers were protesting three contentious farm laws which the government was eventually forced to repeal.
One of the key demands from the farmers is to set a minimum price for each crop - a system that the government said in the past will be difficult to adopt universally. Since farmers are a hefty voter base and the elections are just a few weeks away, a protest may pose a challenge for the government seeking a third term in power.
The farmers’ groups also called for a national strike on Friday.
(Added update with Delhi restrictions and quote in paragraph four)
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