New Delhi, Dec 3 (efe-epa).- Thousands of farmers continued to camp on the roads on Thursday, marking a week since they blocked several roads to the Indian capital in protest against new farm laws, while negotiations continue between their representatives and the government.
Several agricultural organizations have expressed their opposition to a series of controversial reforms that seek to deregulate the prices and quantity sold of certain crops, as well as establish pathways for contract agriculture.
Until now, farmers had to sell their produce at government-regulated wholesale markets.
Thousands of farmers from the northern states of Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh continued their protests around New Delhi for the seventh consecutive day demanding a repeal of the new reforms.
Initially the organizers of the protesters had called for entering the capital to voice their discontent.
However, the protesters were stopped outside New Delhi by the security forces given that mass gatherings have been banned inside the city due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
“Everybody is waiting and everything is on standstill,” Avik Saha, secretary of the farmers’ union AIKSCC – one of the organizers -, told EFE.
He added that the farmers were prepared to camp for as long as it would take to enter New Delhi, and even block more roads if necessary, until an agreement is reached with the government.
Saha underlined that for now, “the talks are the most important thing.”
Around 30 representatives of agricultural organizations on Thursday met, for the fourth time, with a government delegation chaired by Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Minister of Trade and Industry, Piyush Goyal.
“The problem is that the farmers’ bodies, such as mine, are asking for a repeal of the law. And the government is saying ‘tell us what you want other than cancellation of the law.’ So there’s no common ground to meet. It’s a deadlock as I see it,” explained Saha.
The protesters fear that the agriculture reforms would endanger the livelihood of farmers in a sector that – according to official figures – employs more than half of the country workforce and contributes to nearly 20 percent of its GDP.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on his part, defended the new farm laws on his monthly radio program “Mann ki baat,” where he claimed that these agricultural reforms have created new opportunities for farmers.
For now, the farmers’ bodies have called for a protest across the country on Saturday, when the next round of talks with the government is expected to be held to break the deadlock. EFE-EPA