Clashes break at out at key farmers' protest site in Indian capital

Published January 29, 2021
People shout anti-farmers slogans and wave India's flags as police officers try to stop them, at a site of the protest against farm laws at Singhu border near New Delhi, India, January 29. — Reuters
People shout anti-farmers slogans and wave India's flags as police officers try to stop them, at a site of the protest against farm laws at Singhu border near New Delhi, India, January 29. — Reuters

Clashes broke out on Friday between protesting Indian farmers and a group of men shouting anti-farmer and pro-police slogans, and authorities used tear gas and batons to break up the fight at one of several protest sites near the capital, New Delhi.

Farmers’ leaders accused local police and politicians of instigating skirmishes at the northern site to turn sentiment against them after thousands of farmers marched overnight to reinforce colleagues camping out on the outskirts of New Delhi.

The protesting farmers want the government to withdraw three new farm laws that they say will hurt their livelihoods for the benefit of large private produce buyers.

In a stand-off between riot police and the farmers, authorities on Thursday night tried to clear a protest site in the city’s east but most farmers refused to move and large numbers joined them.

Their leaders said any retreat would constitute surrender.

“Concerned over police high-handedness, thousands of farmers, who were not part of the protest, have now come to bolster our movement,” Rakesh Tikait, president of one of the largest farmers unions, the Bharti Kisan Union, told Reuters on Friday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government introduced the new agricultural laws in September, triggering a wave of protests and sit-ins on some of the major approaches to New Delhi.

Farm leaders say the laws are an attempt to erode a longstanding mechanism that ensures farmers a minimum support price for their rice and wheat.

The government says the reforms will open up new opportunities for farmers and it says it will not bow to the protesters’ demands.

Modi retains a solid majority in parliament although the protests are beginning to undermine some support for the government in the countryside.

The protest turned violent on Tuesday, when India celebrated its Republic Day with a military parade, when some protesters broke away from a procession of tractors to break through barricade and clash with police.

Opinion

Editorial

Wheat price crash
Updated 20 May, 2024

Wheat price crash

What the government has done to Punjab’s smallholder wheat growers by staying out of the market amid crashing prices is deplorable.
Afghan corruption
20 May, 2024

Afghan corruption

AMONGST the reasons that the Afghan Taliban marched into Kabul in August 2021 without any resistance to speak of ...
Volleyball triumph
20 May, 2024

Volleyball triumph

IN the last week, while Pakistan’s cricket team savoured a come-from-behind T20 series victory against Ireland,...
Border clashes
19 May, 2024

Border clashes

THE Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier has witnessed another series of flare-ups, this time in the Kurram tribal district...
Penalising the dutiful
19 May, 2024

Penalising the dutiful

DOES the government feel no remorse in burdening honest citizens with the cost of its own ineptitude? With the ...
Students in Kyrgyzstan
Updated 19 May, 2024

Students in Kyrgyzstan

The govt ought to take a direct approach comprising convincing communication with the students and Kyrgyz authorities.