Indian farmers’ stir intensifies after 8 killed in clash at protest site
New Delhi, Oct 4 (EFE).- Farmers and opposition activists on Monday held demonstrations across India a day after 8 people were killed in clashes between members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and protesters demanding the repeal of three controversial farm laws.
The deceased include four farmers who were allegedly run over on Sunday by a convoy that was carrying the son of India’s deputy home minister during a protest in the northern province of Uttar Pradesh.
The other four victims were traveling in one of the vehicles and were allegedly lynched by the irate mob of protesters, while dozens of people were injured in clashes after the incident, which comes after nearly a year of farmers’ protests.
Dozens of protesters of the main opposition party Indian National Congress on Monday protested in New Delhi in front of the regional office of Uttar Pradesh, which is ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP.
Other cities, such as Kolkata (east) and Chandigarh (north) also witnessed protests by opposition parties and farmers’ unions.
A number of opposition politicians, such as Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav – who heads the Samajwadi Party – were arrested while trying to visit the village where the incident took place.
As tension mounted, regional authorities promised monetary compensation for the victims and ordered an investigation into the incident.
The director general of Uttar Pradesh police, Prashant Kumar, said that the government would offer 450,000 rupees ($6,000) in compensation to the family of the deceased, while the injured would be given 100,000 rupees.
Kumar held an impromptu press conference with Rakesh Tikait, a prominent leader of the farmers’ movement, and promised a fair probe.
Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Kumar Mishra held a separate presser and denied the allegations that his son was driving one of the cars that ran over the farmers, while alleging that the farmers had lynched three BJP members and the driver of one of the vehicle.
Sunday was the deadliest day in nearly 11 months of massive farmers’ protests which have largely remained peaceful.
The incident also assumes significance as it took place in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populated province with nearly 200 million residents, which sends the highest number of lawmakers to the parliament and is set to undergo regional elections in early 2022.
Sunday’s incident has given new impetus to the farmers, who have gathered on the borders of capital New Delhi since November 2020 to protest against the three laws that, according to them, leave peasants at the mercy of the free market and withdraw government protection and subsidies.
However, the government has insisted that the laws aim to give the farmers better bargaining power to negotiate prices directly with companies, without intermediaries.
The Supreme Court stayed the laws from being implemented in January after months of protests and has established a committee to analyze their impact on the different parties involved. EFE