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Farmers’ ongoing protest in India

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Angry and frustrated thousands of farmers occupied India’s most prominent landmark and iconic palace Red Fort that once served as the residence of the Mughal rulers of India. Thousands of protesters enrooted walking through highways and roads during India’s Republic Day on 26th January. As claimed by farmers, the new agricultural laws being introduced by the government will devastate their livelihoods and favor large companies. What began as protest two months ago has turned into a movement with farmers marching into the centre of India’s capital.
On last Tuesday, caravans of farmers rushed into India’s capital New Delhi in what had been expected to be a peaceful protest during military parade on the celebration of Republic Day. Several farmers broke with the main march and used tractors to dismantle police barricades. Dozens of farmers carried long swords, tridents, sharp daggers and battle axes.
In the outskirts of New Delhi, police fired tear-gas when a group of farmers breached security barricades with their tractors. In some areas, video footage showed, the police beat protesters with their batons to push them back. The farmers claimed the violence was stoked by the government and outside elements in an effort to derail their months-long peaceful protest.
According to farmers, the entire country and world watches Delhi on Republic Day so when the farmers roll their tractors into Delhi then the message goes out that the farmers’ fight is not yet over, it’s just started for their rights by entering the city.
Opposition to three agricultural laws passed in November last year is challenging the authority of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The government says, new reforms will relax rules on the sale price and storage of farm produce and changes will boost incomes and private investments. However, as per farmers, they are skeptical, fearing that the removal of state protections that they already consider insufficient would leave them at the mercy of greedy corporations and farmers consider those laws as an invitation for conglomerates to take over agriculture in India.
“We will lose our lands, we will lose our income if government let big business decide prices and buy crops. We don’t trust big business. Free markets work in countries with less corruption and more regulation. It can’t work for us here,” One of the main leaders of the agitation, told the BBC recently.
Further, farmers demand Modi government to take back theses three laws so that the farmers get their rights back. Moreover, they grumble that the government passed these laws without any discussions and without any consent they just imposed them. About half of the country’s 1.3 billion people work in agriculture. The government offered to delay the new laws for 18 months but this offer has been rejected by the farmers. They say they will continue protesting until the laws are fully repealed.
For Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the ongoing protests are the biggest challenge he has faced since he came to power in 2014. Modi says the new laws will reform agriculture and help farmers. But, for the first time in nearly seven years his government has been forced to negotiate with protesters. Several rounds of talks have been held with no result and ongoing protest shows how hard it will be to find a resolution.