NEW DELHI: On Friday, during a march to the capital, Delhi, thousands of protesting Indian farmers scuffled with police against new laws liberalising procurement. They claim would make them open to big business.
After that, in several areas on the outskirts of Delhi, the police fired multiple rounds of tear gas and used water cannons at entry points to avoid farmers entering the city centre.
Thousands pushed against barricades, raising flags and sticks. The television showed plumes of smoke and some protesters throwing stones at the police. Near the barriers, some rode tractors.
Although the police tried to stop us with intimidation, barricades and water cannons, we agreed to stay the course to ensure that millions of farmers’ voices are heard by the government,” said protesting farmer Sukrampal Dhayana.”
Farmers are free to sell their produce anywhere, including to large corporate buyers, under the laws enacted in September that Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a watershed for agriculture, instead of in government-regulated wholesale markets where farmers are guaranteed a minimum procurement price.
The new law is opposed by many farmers’ groups, arguing it would leave small growers with little bargaining power. They also state they fear that the government will eventually withdraw wheat and rice price support.
The government says there is no intention for the wholesale market to be abolished.
By freeing up farmers who want to sell directly to big retailers such as Walmart. The new law aims to make the large agricultural sector more productive.
Suburban train services to Delhi were suspended in an effort to stop protesters from boarding the trains. The Delhi Metro said in a post on Twitter.
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