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News > India

India: Farmers Mass Protest Modi's Liberalization Measures

  • Farmers from the northern states of Punjab and Haryana, next to New Delhi, are leading the agitation since November, establishing protest camps in and around the capital.

    Farmers from the northern states of Punjab and Haryana, next to New Delhi, are leading the agitation since November, establishing protest camps in and around the capital. | Photo: Twitter/@MJAlamChowdhury

Published 8 December 2020
Opinion

On Tuesday, farmers protested new laws liberalizing agricultural markets after farm organizations called a nationwide strike, given inconclusive talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Throughout India, farmers blocked roads and occupied railways, delaying hordes of people from getting to work and impeding fruits and vegetables from reaching markets.

Farmers from Punjab and Haryana, next to New Delhi, have been leading the mobilization since November, setting up protest camps in and around the capital.

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Gurwinder Singh, a 66-year-old farmer from Punjab, known as the breadbasket of India, said: “We will not allow the government to change the rules because they want to hurt farmers’ income by filling the pockets of big companies."

September's reforms liberalized regulations around the sale, pricing, and storage of produce, which have shielded farmers from an open and free market for decades.

Mandis, or state-run wholesale markets, are where most farmers sell the bulk of their produce, which benefit from floor prices.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claims reforms will not impact farm incomes, and further talks between the government and farmers are to take place Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Home Minister Amit Shah invited leaders of protesting farmers’ unions for negotiations.

Farm leader Hanan Molla told reporters after the meeting that “Most likely, the government on Wednesday will give a written proposal about the likely amendments in the laws. Once we receive the proposals, we will examine them."

Users on various social media have expressed sympathy for the farmers’ movement among the Indian diaspora abroad. In recent days, thousands have protested in support of the farmers outside the Indian embassy in central London.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, protest sites around New Delhi have become camps, with entire families cooking and sleeping in the open. Sikh religious organizations have been providing them with face masks, water, and food.

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