Farmers’ protests overshadow India’s Republic Day

Ruben Fields
January 26, 2021

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government insists the laws will benefit farmers and boost production through private investment, but farmers fear cartelization and commercialization of agriculture will devastate their earnings.

However, going back on their promise, the farmers broke barricades and started the rally much before the scheduled time.

At the 400-year-old Red Fort, protesters raised the emblem of their movement on flagpole where India's tricolour normally flies.

Police, who put up barricades of containers and trucks, fired tear gas on at least two groups.

The Government has offered to amend the laws and suspend their implementation for 18 months, but farmers insist they will settle for nothing less than a complete repeal.

The government had opposed the farmers' rally, saying it would be an "embarrassment for the nation" on such an important day.

Motorists are advised to avoid the routes of "kisan tractor rally", police said.

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Some protesters reached a major intersection just three kilometres (1.8 miles) from the parade.

Tens of thousands of farmers have driven a convoy of tractors into the Indian capital during national Republic Day celebrations as part of agricultural protests that are rattling the Government.

The Landworkers' Alliance, a farmers' union representing more than 1,000 small and medium-scale farmers and land workers across the United Kingdom, said they have written a letter to British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and to the Narendra Modi government about the impact of industrialisation.

Smaller farmer demonstrations were also held in other cities, including Mumbai and Bengaluru.

The entry and exit gates of more than 10 metro stations in central and north Delhi were temporarily closed on Tuesday following clashes between police and protesting farmers in part of the national capital.

"When you attack a peaceful protest, then difficulties for the government will surely increase", union leader Kawalpreet Singh Pannu told AFP. They plan a march by foot to the Indian Parliament on February 1, when the country's new budget will be presented. Elsewhere people cheered and applauded as the farmers went past waving Indian flags and blowing horns.

Modi has tried to allay farmers' fears by mostly dismissing their concerns and has repeatedly accused opposition parties of agitating them by spreading rumors. They have also advised commuters to NH 44, GT Karnal road, outer ring road, Signature bridge, GT road, ISBT ring road, Vikas marg, ITO, NH 24, Nizammudin Khatta, Noida link road, Peeragarhi and Outer Delhi, East and West Delhi border areas due to ongoing farmer protests.

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