Business & Economy

Indian farmers mark 100 days of anti-government protests with new road block

New Delhi, Mar 6 (efe-epa).- Protesting Indian farmers on Saturday blocked a highway near the national capital to mark the 100th day of their agitation against the government’s controversial agricultural reforms.

The farmers refuse to end their protests, alleging that the new agricultural laws, approved last year, would devastate the agricultural sector of India.

The blockade on the Western Peripheral Expressway on the edge of Delhi was imposed from 11 am until 4 pm, which affected the movement of commercial transport to some satellite towns of the capital.

Demonstrators at various protest sites on the borders of Delhi waved black flags “as a mark of support to the ongoing movement against the Indian government,” Kisan Ekta Morcha or Farmers’ Unity Front wrote on Twitter.

Thousands of farmers have been on a sit-in since Nov.26 at various border points towards Delhi, where they have been stationed tractors, trucks, and pitched tents for a long-haul protest until the government revokes the new agricultural laws.

On the other hand, the authorities have dismissed and criticized the demonstrations as a ploy by foreign forces against the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

As the two sides hold their ground, no solution is in sight to end the crisis, which has mostly been peaceful, barring clashes between groups of protesters and police on Jan.26 that left one protester dead and hundreds injured.

Security forces barricaded Delhi entry points with barbed wires, concrete blocks, and thick nails on the roads to prevent similar farmers from entering the capital and sparking more violence.

The nails hammered into roads have become a symbol of the struggle between the farmers and the government.

Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted that the government had laid nails at the Delhi border for those whose sons lay down their lives for the nation on the country’s boundaries.

Those who provide food for the people of the country demand rights, but the government is committing atrocities on them, Gandhi said, expressing solidarity with farmers and their struggle.

The opposition was always positioned on the side of the peasants who sought to repeal the three laws promoted by the government led by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

However, the political aspect of the protests has now been accentuated with the beginning of important state elections in five regions of the country.

“(The) Modi government has been a failure in understanding the needs of the farmers (regarding) the 3 farm bills,” the Kisan Ekta Morcha tweeted.

“To intensify the ongoing protest, the farmers have urged people to boycott the BJP politically.”

Yogendra Yadav, an agricultural activist who heads the Swaraj India party, defended the move to link elections with the farmers’ protests.

He stressed in an online article that the “farmers’ movement can’t and shouldn’t be apolitical. That’s not a democracy.”

However, he clarified that the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, or Joint Farmers’ Front, would not campaign for any party or candidate.

“We have decided to appeal to the voters in Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry to electorally punish the BJP for its anti-farmer laws, for its outrageous attacks on the movement, for its use of state machinery to suppress and criminalize the movement and, above all, for its imperious arrogance,” Yadav wrote.

“It is for the voters to decide how they wish to mete out this punishment to the BJP. It is not for SKM to suggest who they should vote for.”

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