Massive Clash Erupts in India's Punjab as Agitating Farmers Stop Politician Sukhbir Badal's Rally
17:39 GMT 02.09.2021 (Updated: 10:38 GMT 19.07.2022)
Since November 2020, thousands of farmers have been protesting against three controversial farm laws brought in by the Narendra Modi government. While the government claims the laws are meant to benefit over 100 million marginal farmers in the country, the agitating farmers fear the changes will snatch away the guaranteed income from their produce.
Videos of a clash between police and agitating farmers trying to stop a rally of Sukhbir Badal, a politician and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) party president, in Punjab's Moga district, have taken the Internet by storm. Badal was accused by the farmers of not supporting them in their protest against the three farm laws passed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi government last year.
Ahead of the 2022 Punjab Assembly elections, Badal was, on Thursday, addressing a public meeting and campaigning in the Moga district.
As soon as his car reached the highway at Sahnewal village in the Ludhiana district, a group of farmers from the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) sparked a protest and blocked their way by pelting stones and chanting slogans.
To bring the situation under control, the police had to resort to using water cannons on farmers.
Five farmers and several policemen were injured, while at least 10 cars and other vehicles were damaged in the incident.
Several farmer groups across India are continuing to protest against the controversial farm laws by agitating near political rallies, blocking highways, and much more. A farmers union in Uttar Pradesh state is preparing a Mahapanchayat (village council) for 5 September. Similar conventions are planned in the Indian states of Jharkhand (12 September), Chhattisgarh (28 September), and Bihar (2 to 19 October).
The three farm laws that have caused such turmoil are: the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance 2020.
They were introduced with the aim of enabling farmers to sell their produce to any seller across the country and deal with private companies directly instead of operating through government-regulated wholesale markets.
However, the farmers fear that opening the agricultural markets to private companies directly will end the Minimum Support Price (MSP) - or the state procurement system.
A farmers' group affiliated with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) - the BJP's parent organisation - has written to PM Modi, asking for the MSP for all farmers to be guaranteed by law.
Several rounds of talks between farmers and the government have already taken place although, so far each has resulted in a stalemate.