Indian peasants mark 1 year of movement against agricultural reforms
New Delhi, Nov 26 (EFE).- Thousands of farmers in India commemorated Friday the completion of one year of permanent camping around New Delhi against laws to liberalize the sector.
Massive demonstrations continue on the outskirts of the national capital despite the government’s announcement that it will soon repeal the controversial legislation that has generated backlash among large sections of the farming community.
Farmers’ unions now demand that the minimum support price (MSP) be extended to all agricultural products, that the government withdraw cases opened against some protesters and the resignation of a minister.
“One long year of struggle, determination and fight. PM Modi says – Farm laws to be repealed in next parliament session, but what about MSP? Isn’t it our farmers’ right?” underlined Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) – a coalition of farmers’ organizations behind the protests – in a statement.
Farmers remain camped at several points outside New Delhi, on the roads connecting the Indian capital with neighboring states, and unions reported that thousands more have joined the protests to mark the anniversary.
A year ago, the authorities had prevented them from protesting in the city against the controversial reforms, blocking their access to the capital.
But farmers – mostly from the agricultural belt of northern India – refused to turn back and camped along the roads with their tractors and meager belongings.
Peasants began their protests in November last year against three laws that they believe leave producers at the mercy of the free market, with no guarantees of protection.
The Indian government, however, has maintained that the rules seek to give farmers the capacity to negotiate prices directly with buyers, without hindrance or intermediaries.
A week ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an announcement that surprised even the farm unions, said the government would withdraw the three laws in the forthcoming winter session of the parliament.
However, farmers have refused to dismantle the camps, calling for greater coverage of MSP and financial compensation for the families of at least 683 farmers who – according to the SKM – have died during the protests.
The unions are also demanding the resignation of Minister of State for Home Affairs, Ajay Kumar Mishra, whose son was arrested in connection to an incident where a vehicle ran over four farmers during the protests. EFE