Indian farmers plan nationwide three-hour blockade of major roads

Elderly farmers talk on a heavily barricaded road outside New Delhi (AP)
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Tens of thousands of protesting farmers plan to blockade major roads across India for three hours on Saturday 6 February. It’s an attempt to press their demands for the repeal of new agricultural laws in the country.

Authorities deployed thousands of security forces mainly outside India’s capital New Delhi. Farmers have camped at three main sites there for more than two months.

They say they will not leave until the government rolls back the laws it says are necessary to modernise Indian agriculture.

Protracted talks

The scheduled highway blockade is set to start at noon local time (6.30am GMT).

Several rounds of talks between farmers with the government have failed to produce any breakthroughs.

Read on...

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The farmers say the laws will leave them poorer and at the mercy of corporations. Their action is a major challenge to prime minister Narendra Modi.

On Friday 5 February, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar defended the laws in parliament, dampening hopes of a quick settlement as he made no new offer to resume talks with the farmers.

Clashes

The largely peaceful rally turned violent on 26 January, India’s Republic Day, when a group of farmers riding tractors veered from the protest route and stormed the 17th century Red Fort.

A protester died and scores of farmers were injured. Police officers were also reportedly injured.

Farmers’ leaders condemned the violence, but said they would not call off the protest.

Since then, authorities have heavily increased security at protest sites outside New Delhi’s border, adding iron spikes and steel barricades to stop the farmers from entering the capital.

Featured image via AP

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