Tuesday September 21, 2021

Indian farmers protest gathers momentum amid 25 deaths

December 23, 2020

NEW DELHI: A country-wide strike by farmers in India has begun amid a standoff with the government over new farm laws.

Tuesday's strike follows three rounds of inconclusive talks between the two sides over laws that farmers say are against their interests. Another round of talks is due on Wednesday (today), reports the international media.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's party alleges he has been put under house arrest after he visited the border where farmers have gathered. "No one has been permitted to leave or enter his house," the Aam Aadmi Party's said in a statement. Delhi police denied the claim saying it was a general deployment to avoid any clashes. At least 15 opposition parties have backed the call for the strike. Tens of thousands of farmers have laid siege to capital Delhi for the last 12 days, choking almost all the entry points. There is also heavy police deployment along border checkpoints.

With the protest demonstrations gathering momentum amid 25 deaths, farmers' unions Tuesday said they would write to the UK Parliament to stop Prime Minister Boris Johnson from visiting India for the Republic Day celebrations on Jan 26, 2021 until their demands were met.

Thousands of protesters have camped on the outskirts of New Delhi and blocked national highways for over three weeks to protest new laws that the government says would increase farmers’ income through more private investments.

The protesting farmer unions deferred a decision on the central government's offer for fresh talks to Wednesday, even as Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar Tuesday expressed the hope that they will soon resume the dialogue to resolve the impasse over the new agri laws, reports the international media.

"I am hopeful they (protesting farmers' unions) will soon complete their internal discussions and come forward for talks. We will be able to find a solution successfully," the minister said. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has written to Governor Arif Mohammed Khan stating that the governor's action was "against the Constitution" and "governor has no power to reject the recommendation of the government having a clear majority in the assembly".

A group of farmers protesting against the Centre's new agri laws on Tuesday showed black flags to Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar when his convoy was passing through Ambala City.

Some of the farmers allegedly tried to block Khattar's motorcade but police managed to provide a safe passage to the chief minister. at least 25 farmers have died during protests, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi attempted to diffuse growing tensions by making a surprise visit to a Sikh temple in New Delhi on Sunday.

Fourteen deaths have been attributed to exposure to the cold, as approximately 500,000 farmers - most of whom are Sikh - continue to sleep in their tractors and blockade roads outside Delhi despite temperatures dropping to 3°C at night. Ten death occurred in road accidents as farmers travelled to Delhi from the surrounding states of Punjab and Haryana, while an eminent Sikh priest from Haryana shot himself in protest against the new legislation.