Indian farmers launch nationwide highway blockade

    Tens of thousands of farmers are demonstrating to benefit large private buyers according to their laws.

    Thousands of protesting Indian farmers have blocked highways across the country to UN officials and protesters for “maximum restraint”.

    The farmers carried out a three-hour “chakka jam” or road blockade on Saturday at noon local time (06:30 GMT) across the country, excluding the capital New Delhi and a couple of neighboring states.

    “Today, the entire society is supported with the farmers,” Yogendra Yadav, a political activist who is one of the leaders of the farmers’ movement, said on Twitter. “Victory is certain.”

    On a highway near the capital, some farmers drank hookah as songs played on loudspeakers.

    Farmers stormed the road with flags and banners in the southern state of Odisha and Karnataka in Karnataka, with some protesting the law with placards urging the government not to consider them enemies.

    Authorities have deployed thousands of security forces mainly outside the capital of India, where farmers have camped at three main sites for more than two months to repeal new agricultural laws. They say that they will not give up until the government withdraws the laws necessary to modernize Indian agriculture.

    “The peaceful assembly and expression rights must be protected both offline and online,” the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Twitter on Friday.

    “It is important to find the proper solution because of #Realism for all.”

    Several rounds of negotiations between the farmers and the government have failed to produce any success. The farmers say that the laws will leave them at the mercy of the poor and corporations.

    His action is a big challenge for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    On Friday, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar defended the laws in Parliament, dashed the hopes of a speedy settlement as he made no new offers to resume negotiations with farmers.

    A peaceful rally took place peacefully on 26 January on India’s Republic Day, when a group of farmers driving a tractor fled the protest road and attacked the 17th-century Red Fort.

    Hundreds of police officers were injured and one of the guards was killed. Many farmers were also hurt but the officials have not given official numbers.

    Farmer leaders condemned the violence, but said they would not call for protest.

    Since then, authorities have stepped up heavy security at demonstration sites outside New Delhi’s border, including iron spikes and steel barricades, to prevent farmers from entering the capital.

    Much needed investment

    Protests were launched by rice and wheat growers of North India, particularly the opposition-ruled Punjab state, but support is growing across the country.

    The issue has garnered international attention, with celebrities such as pop star Rihanna and environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg declaring to support farmers.

    The US has also urged India to resume talks with farmers.

    The Modi government held several rounds of talks with farmer representatives but failed to resolve their differences.

    The government says the reforms will bring much-needed investment to the agricultural sector, which accounts for about 15 percent of India’s $ 2.9 trillion economy and half of its workforce.


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