20:42 GMT30 July 2021
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    Since November last year, a number of farmers from the agricultural states of Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have been protesting against three farm laws passed in September 2020. The last round of official talks that the farmers held with government officials was on 22 January this year.

    Disregarding COVID observances, including masks and social distancing, hundreds of farmers left Punjab state’s Amritsar city for Delhi to join their fellow protesters in agitating against farm laws that were passed during the monsoon parliamentary session, Hindustan Times reported on Wednesday.

    Pictures of the protesters leaving for Delhi show hordes of people sitting together on tractor-trailers and in cars – some not even wearing masks for protection from the coronavirus.

    ​Amritsar is one of the worst cities to be afflicted with COVID-19 with more than 5,000 active cases at the moment. Delhi, the city the protesters are headed to, is India’s worst infected city with more than 12 million coronavirus cases being registered.

    “Whatever legal action is there, it will be discussed with the Amritsar (rural) senior superintendent of police (SSP) Dhruv Dahiya,” Punjab’s deputy commissioner Gurpreet Singh Khaira was quoted as saying.

    The protesters are expected to reach Delhi’s Singhu border to join other farmers on 6 May.

    "The government wants to enrich big corporations under the guise of Corona. Decisions regarding the exploitation of farmers and workers were taken in lockdown as in farm laws and labour codes," farmer leader Harinder Singh Lakhowal said in a statement obtained by Sputnik.

    Hundreds of farmers had begun to gather in Amritsar in the past few days, to start their journey to Delhi.

    Videos and pictures of these farmers chanting slogans against PM Narendra Modi and his government have been doing the rounds on social media for at least a week now.

    ​After discussions between farmer leaders and the government, the two sides were still in deadlock.

     "The government is known as the caretaker of life and property (Jaan-Maal) but - putting the property on one side - the government is not even taking care of the lives of the people," farmer leader Harinder Singh Lakhowal further added in the statement.

    In the past months, farmers across India have extended solidarity with their counterparts protesting in Delhi. From violent clashes with police officers to nationwide “chakka jams” (road blocking) and “Rail Roko” protests, the farmers have not backed down.

    The two new farm bills and one amendment that caused this controversy are 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 which were passed during the monsoon session of the Parliament in September last year.

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    India, Indians, farmers, farmers, farmers, protest, protests, Narendra Modi, Narendra Modi, Sputnik, Sputnik, Sputnik, Sputnik, Sputnik News, Sputnik Radio
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