New Delhi: Unless the government led by Narendra Modi repeals agricultural reform laws, Indian farmer leaders refused to relax on Tuesday.
Thousands of protesters set up camps on the outskirts of New Delhi and blocked the national highway for more than three weeks to protest the new laws. The government stated that the new law will increase farmers’ income through more private investment.
Indian PM Modi’s government has urged the farmers to engage in talks to end the deadlock over the three reform laws introduced in September, but the farmers insist the laws would hit them economically while benefiting big retailers.
“We assure our farmers that we’ll listen to them with an open mind,” Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on Tuesday. The government was “open” to amend the new laws, Tomar told foreign journalists.
He, however, declined to say whether the government could consider withdrawal of these laws as demanded by protesters.
Urging India’s diaspora to help the government to convince farmers, Tomar said new policy changes would make agriculture more attractive for farmers.
The protesters have been supported by thousands of overseas Indians, mainly from Punjab, who have organized demonstrations in the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia to support the protests.
The peasant leaders have decided to continue their protest.
“Farmers have decided they won’t go back till the government takes back all three farm laws,” said Rakesh Tikait, spokesperson for Bhartiya Kisan Union, one of over 30 protesting unions. “It will take more than a month to resolve all issues. Government will come to us,” he said.