India’s farmers are on strike across the country over controversial new laws

Farmers across India on strike in a dispute over new agricultural laws. Thousands continue to block major roads on the outskirts of New Delhi in protest.

There are strict security measures across the country to prevent violence.

In Delhi, the capital, police are strong and have warned people of clutter or attempts to force shops and markets to close.

Unions have asked for silence, but there have been reports of protesters fighting with police and throwing stones in Jaipur, Rajasthan.

Protesters have ceased traffic on national highways, while most trucks and buses have been kept off strike after the transport unions joined.

Farmers blocked most of the roads on the outskirts of Delhi for 12 days and suffocated the city after being denied entry in protest.

Tens of thousands of farmers have blocked the main roads around Delhi after failing to reach the capital

In some states, trains have also been stopped on the tracks due to unions protests. Many markets and shops have also remained closed.

Farmers say the three federal laws deregulating crop prices will reduce their revenues by dismantling the system that guarantees them an income and leaves them vulnerable to large private businesses.

All major opposition parties have spoken out in favor of the strike.

The government argues that the laws will remove middlemen and improve farmers’ incomes as they will have a wider market to sell to.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the government’s intentions were “as sacred as the waters of the Ganga River”, claiming farmers were being misled “by the same people who have misled them for decades about these historic agricultural reform laws “.

In a televised address on Monday he added: “Reforms are necessary for development. Reforms are very important for a new order and to create new institutions.

Amritsar farmers burned a portrait of the prime minister and other figures last week
Amritsar farmers burned a portrait of the prime minister and other figures last week

“We cannot build the next century with the laws of the previous century”

But farmers are in no mood to give up – even in this time of a raging pandemic and winter to come, thousands are living on the highways and roads.

You are prepared for the long haul, with food and rations for three to four months.

Four rounds of talks between the government and the union leaders have not yet brought about a breakthrough, a fifth is planned for December 9th.

Farmers from Punjab and Haryana are leading the protests and are slowly being supported by those from other states making their way to Delhi.

The government tried to block their march with concrete barriers, barbed wire, and even ditches.

Minor clashes occurred at some borders when police used tear gas and water cannons.

There are concerns in Delhi about the lack of food, vegetables and milk due to the blockage.

Blockades and barbed wire were set up in places to block the farmers
Blockades and barbed wire were set up in places to block the farmers

The problem could become a major problem for the Modi government as farmers and farmers account for more than 70% of the population.

It may only contribute 17% -18% of GDP, but all questions related to farmers are sensitive as they have a huge impact on voting patterns.

No political party or politician wants to be seen as an anti-peasant.

The Shiromani Akali Dal, one of the oldest allies of the BJP-led government, has withdrawn from the alliance over the farm laws.

Farmers say the new laws will dismantle the minimum support price system that guarantees them an income
Farmers and people related to agriculture make up more than 70% of the population.

While Prime Minister Modi’s government is safe, the longer the problem remains, the more damage will be done to his image.

In the UK, 36 MPs, led by Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi of the Labor Party, spoke out on behalf of farmers and asked Foreign Minister Dominic Raab to raise the matter with Delhi.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was the first world leader to speak on the matter.

In a video message on the 551st birthday of Sikh leader Guru Nanak, he said: “The situation is worrying and we are all very concerned for family and friends.

“I know this is a reality for many of you. I want to remind you that Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protest.”

India quickly called Canada’s High Commissioner Nadir Patel and told him that the comments were “unacceptable intrusions” into the country’s internal affairs and, if continued, would have “seriously detrimental” effects on bilateral relations

At the United Nations, Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, told reporters that people “have the right to demonstrate peacefully and the authorities must allow it”.

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