Indian farmers to expand protest campaign from today

Modi’s comments on farmers were his first since protests began last week, come months before elections in which he is seeking third-term

By REUTERS
February 23, 2024
Farmers on tractors gather during a protest demanding minimum crop prices near the Haryana-Punjab state border at Shambhu in Patiala district on February 20, 2024. — AFP

SHAMBHU, India: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday his government is committed to the welfare of farmers and is on a mission to make them entrepreneurs and exporters, amid a protest by thousands of farmers seeking higher prices for their produce. At the same time Indian farmers leaders’ plan to expand protests from Friday (today).

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Modi’s comments on farmers were his first since the protests began last week and come months before general elections in which he is seeking a rare third term.

Farmers, mostly from the northern state of Punjab, have been attempting to march to the capital for more than a week as part of their ‘Delhi Chalo’ (Let’s Go to Delhi) campaign demanding legally binding higher prices for their crops, among other things.

They have been stopped 200 km (125 miles) away by police who have used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon, with talks between farmers’ leaders and federal ministers failing to produce a breakthrough.

said they had decided to launch other “mega programmes” across the country starting on Friday.

Friday would be observed as a Black Day and effigies of federal Interior Minister Amit Shah and some state leaders would be burnt across the country, farmers’ leader Avik Saha told reporters. A tractor rally would be held on highways on Feb. 26 and a farm workers’ public meeting would be held in Delhi on March 14, he added.

“Our government is committed to fulfill every resolve related to the welfare of our farmer brothers and sisters across the country,” Modi posted on X earlier on Thursday, and referred to a cabinet decision on Wednesday to raise the floor price that mills must pay for sugar cane by 8%.

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