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Battling Water Cannons & Tear Gas: Why Thousands of Indian Farmers are Protesting in Delhi

© REUTERS / DANISH SIDDIQUIFarmers shout slogans after burning an effigy during a protest against the newly passed farm bills at Singhu border near Delhi, India, November 28, 2020
Farmers shout slogans after burning an effigy during a protest against the newly passed farm bills at Singhu border near Delhi, India, November 28, 2020 - Sputnik International
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Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and Narendra Singh Tomar – respectively India's Home, Defence and Agriculture ministers - met late on 29 November in Delhi to work out how to mollify thousands of angry farmers who are protesting in the capital. The farmers have rejected the government’s invitation to hold conditional talks.

Last week, Indian farmers from the agricultural states of Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh (MP), Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Uttarakhand marched on the capital Delhi, opposing two farm laws and one Essential Commodities Act (Amendment) that were passed during the Monsoon session of the Parliament in September.

Policemen wield their batons against a farmer during a protest against the newly passed farm bills at Singhu border near Delhi, India - Sputnik International
Thousands of Protesting Indian Farmers Gather on Delhi's Outskirts, Riots Feared
In light of the pandemic, Delhi Police, who have been stationed at the capital's borders, launched water cannons and tear gas shells at the farmers to disperse the crowd and prevent them from entering the city. However, the protesters pressed on and and two days ago gained entry to Delhi.

Presently, thousands of Indian farmers have congregated in the north-western area of the city, where they are peacefully demonstrating against the farm laws – which, according to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have been put in place to provide "new opportunities" for the farmers.

What Are These Laws Wrecking Havoc On Indian Farmers?

  • The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 compels farmers to sell their crops in places other than their designated Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) markets. APMC markets are state-government-backed marketing boards which were founded to protect farmers from being exploited by large retailers.
  • The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 is supposed to help contract-based farming projects so farmers can enter into supply agreements with private firms for set prices.
  • The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 removes stock limits on farm produce so traders can maintain the stock freely without fearing any additional hoarding charges. 

What Do the Indian Farmers Think About These Laws?

Clearly, the farming community is strongly against these new laws and amendments. Regardless of age, religion and sex, farmers have joined together in Delhi, despite the physical injuries they've sustained. 

​The farmers are accusing the Modi-government of allowing produce pricing to be influenced by market forces and backing out from its role as a price guarantor.

Where is the Indian Government at This Point?

The central government tried to get the farmers gathered on the outskirts of Delhi to discuss the situation. The attempt, however, failed after the farmers at the borders said that they’d rather wait there and be allowed to march up to central Delhi’s famous protest area – Jantar Mantar.

Farmers shout slogans after burning an effigy during a protest against the newly passed farm bills at Singhu border near Delhi, India, November 28, 2020.  - Sputnik International
Agricultural Reforms Bring New Opportunities For Farmers, Says Indian PM Modi as Protests Continue
Prime Minister Modi addressed the protesters on Sunday during his radio show Mann ki Baat, saying that these reforms, in the long run will free farmers and give them “new rights and opportunities”.

More details about what the government intends to do are awaited.

Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi from India’s main opposition Congress party on Monday said the Modi government is committing atrocities against the farmers and that the government seems to have forgotten that when the farmers raise their voice, it resonates through the entire country.

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