18:34 GMT23 January 2021
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    Thousands of farmers from across India are outside Delhi, blocking the key highway to the capital city. The farmers are demanding that three farm laws which have been passed by the Indian parliament in September be scrapped.

    India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday expressed hope that farmers will soon end their agitation as the government is sympathetic towards their concerns.

    “On Farmers Day, I greet farmers of the country. They have provided the country with food security. Some farmers are agitating against farm laws. Govt is holding talks with them with full sensitivity. I hope that they'll end their agitation soon,” Rajnath Singh tweeted while sending Farmers' Day greetings.

    ​Rajnath Singh said the Narendra Modi government has taken numerous measures in the farmers' interests while drawing inspiration from ex-Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh and that he would not allow any harm to come to them under any circumstances.   

    The defence minister is one of the key cabinet ministers who are in talks with the farmers. 

    Nevertheless, farmers intensified their protest on Wednesday as they are attending demonstrations and fasting countrywide. They are demanding that the laws be scrapped on national farmer day.  

    On Wednesday, Kerala state minister Pinarayi Vijayan expressed solidarity with the farmers' protest and attacked the Modi government.

    The sixth round of talks between the government and the farmers which was supposed to be held on 9 December, got cancelled as farmers are adamant about a complete rollback of the three laws. Five talks between the government and farmers have failed to break the deadlock. 

    Farmers are protesting against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. The government has defended the laws, saying that the liberalisation measure will allow farmers to sell their crops anywhere in the country. 

    However, farmers have raised concerns that these reforms will end the concept of the minimum support price (MSP) for crops and they will be at the mercy of big corporations. The Modi government has categorically denied all their apprehensions. 

    Meanwhile, as many as 41 farmers have lost their lives during the protest. 

    Related:

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    An Olive Branch? Indian PM Modi Gov't Invites Protesting Farmers for Talks on Contentious Laws
    Farmers Attack Police as Thousands March Towards Delhi Against Modi’s ‘Historic’ Reforms - Video
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