Mumbai/New Delhi: Thousands of Indian farmers intensified their protests on three new agricultural laws on Sunday, which are aimed at overhauling food purchase and pricing rules by allowing private companies to directly enter the vast agricultural sector.
Angry farmers held a demonstration near New Delhi after rejecting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance that the law would double farmers’ income.
Six rounds of talks between government officials and farmers’ union leaders failed to resolve the challenges facing the Modi government.
“Hundreds of farmers will launch a tractor trolley march to New Delhi to voice our grievances against the new laws,” said Kamal Preet Singh Pannu, a leader of Sanyukta Kisan Andolan (United Farmers’ Protest), one of 30 groups against the laws.
“Government wants to discredit and crush our movement, but we will continue to protest peacefully,” Pannu said.
Local authorities increased security measures, deploying police and putting up barricades to prevent farmers from entering New Delhi in large numbers. Opposition parties and some senior economists have lent support to the protests.
“I’ve now studied India’s new farm bills & realize they are flawed and will be detrimental to farmers,” Kaushik Basu, a former chief economic adviser to the federal government, wrote on Twitter.
“Our agriculture regulation needs change, but the new laws will end up serving corporate interests more than farmers. Hats off to the sensibility & moral strength of India’s farmers,” Basu said.
Farmers protested the three laws the government said, which are designed to overhaul the procurement process and give them more options to sell their products.
Ministers of the Modi government called on leading industrialists and companies to explain the benefits of the new law to farmers at an industry event in New Delhi on Saturday.