Indian farmers announce end of protests against contentious farm laws
New Delhi, Dec 9 (EFE).- Indian farmers who have been camped outside the borders of capital New Delhi for more than a year, in protest against recent farm laws, announced Thursday the end of protests after their demands were accepted by the government.
The protesting farmers will formally start removing their camps on Saturday, Dec.11, bringing an end to one of the biggest protests that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has had to face till date.
“Protesting farmers will vacate the protest sites on Dec.11,” farmers’ leader Darshan Pal Singh of the Krantikari Kisan Union (Revolutionary Farmers Union) said at a press conference.
This announcement by the farmers’ unions calling off the protest follows the Modi’s government’s decision to repeal three laws that sought to liberalize agricultural trade.
Apart from annulment of the laws, peasants had a number of demands that included the revision of minimum support prices on production, a government policy created to protect the value of crops from market fluctuations.
Local media showed footage of the peasants dismantling some of the makeshift houses that they erected on three roads connecting New Delhi with neighboring states, and which had served as their home for more than a year during the protests.
Farmers’ associations are expected to reconvene Dec.15, and resume the demonstrations if the government does not keep its promise, according to peasant leader Gurnam Singh Charuni.
Despite the year-long protests by peasants, Modi’s government has vehemently defended the three laws, claiming they would give new impetus to the agricultural sector and give farmers more power to access the market.
These laws relaxed a series of rules on the minimum support price, storage, and negotiation with industry, which had prevented the entry of the agriculture sector into the free market.
Farmers, however, viewed the reforms as against their interest, as it would leave them at the mercy of large enterprises, further in their detriment, given that peasants are India’s largest and most marginalized labor force.
This immediately led to protests by thousands of peasants who marched to New Delhi and have been camped on the outskirts of the Indian capital for over a year, demanding the repeal of the laws.
The decision to repeal the laws comes months ahead of the regional legislative elections in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, two agricultural states where rural discontent could prove decisive. EFE