Conflicts & War

Indian farmers intensify protests against agrarian reforms

New Delhi, Dec 11 (efe-epa).- After 19 days of protests, Indian farmers on Monday intensified mobilizations against three new laws liberalizing the agricultural sector, setting up fresh road blocks and carrying out brief hunger strikes.

“These laws not only adversely affect the farmers but also will endanger the food security of the nation,” tweeted All India Kisan Sabha, one of the main farmers’ groups opposed to the reforms.

After appealing farmers to intensify protests to pressurize the government, especially by blocking access roads to the Indian capital, AIKS insisted that despite several rounds of negotiations with the government, “the protesting farmers have stated that repealing of these laws is the only way they will call off protests.”

The controversial laws seek to deregulate prices and quantity sold of certain commodities deemed essential.

They also permit and facilitate contract farming and allow private markets to function outside the physical boundaries of the government-regulated wholesale farm markets.

Peasants fear that the Modi government’s policies would corporatize Indian agriculture and end state-control over farm markets.

However, the government has defended the reforms as necessary and in favor farmers.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told reporters on Monday that he had received the support of various farmer leaders over the laws, which seek to “change the life quality of farmers,” and urged the protesters to return to the dialog table.

“The policy and intent of the Indian government is correct (good) in bringing these laws. We have tried to explain them to the farmers’ unions, tried to make them understand. We want to hold a clause-by-clause discussion with them. If they express their views on our proposals, we can take the discussion forward,” he said.

Large-scale protests were held on Monday on different access points to New Delhi, where the farmers have camped for 19 days, with sporadic moments of tension between protesters and the police, which tried to prevent the closure of roads.

Moreover, various peasant leaders on Monday started a new pressure tactic: a hunger strike, although it was limited to eight hours, without clarifying if they meant to continue this Gandhian method of protest if their demands are not met. EFE-EPA

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