Home LATEST NEWS Farmers lift camp after year of protests in India

Farmers lift camp after year of protests in India

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Hundreds of them were dancing and celebrating victory Saturday morning, when the roadblocks were lifted and the makeshift shelters were dismantled on major highways.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last month passed parliament to repeal three land reforms that protesters said would allow private companies to control the country’s agricultural sector.

However, the farmers initially refused to leave their camps, putting forward other demands, such as a fixed minimum price guarantee on their agricultural products.

A year of demonstrations

The agricultural laws Mr. Modi wanted were passed in September 2020 to allow farmers to sell their produce to buyers of their choice, rather than turning exclusively to state-controlled markets ensuring them a minimum support price for certain commodities.

Many small farmers were opposed to it, believing themselves threatened by this liberalization which, according to them, risked forcing them to liquidate their goods to large companies.

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Modi’s government had insisted that the laws were necessary reforms to modernize Indian agriculture and that they would lead to a deregulated market with increased private sector control over agriculture.

Two protesters at the Singhu border camp near New Delhi.

The protesters are preparing to leave the camp they have occupied since November 2020.

Photo: Reuters / ADNAN ABIDI

After protests in Punjab and Haryana, in northern India, tens of thousands of farmers headed for the capital New Delhi, where they were violently pushed back by police, the start of an impasse between the two parties having lasted a year.

Farmers in distress

Farmer leaders say more than 500 protesters have died from suicide, cold weather and COVID-19 since November last year. They insist that the government should pay 500,000 rupees ($ 6,750) in restitution per family.

But the government says it has no data on the death toll during the movement.

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The authorities have promised to set up a commission on the subject and have pledged to stop the prosecution of farmers who burn grain, accused of polluting the air in New Delhi every winter.

In response to the promise, the farmer leaders said they will review the measures taken by the government next month and decide on their future course of action.

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