Farmers’ groups are blocking highways and railroads in India on Friday in protest against a set of new laws that they say may leave them out of pocket and vulnerable to big corporations.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government insisted the new laws would make it easier for farmers to sell their produce to big institutional buyers and to fetch better prices.
According to BJP, it frees them from the monopoly of traditional middlemen who dominate the trade.
However, critics claim the changes will end the purchase of grains at prices guaranteed by the government.
Farmers unions in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana, known as India’s granary, are at the forefront of the agitation.
Their call for an all-India strike was supported by several opposition parties and trade unions.
“Large groups of farmers blocked major highways and railroads in Punjab and Haryana with several trains cancelled,’’ the NDTV news channel reported.
Police diverted road traffic towards alternative routes and security was beefed up on highways leading to the Indian capital New Delhi.
Similar rallies and protests were reported in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra states.
The new laws were passed in parliament on Sunday amid protests and a walkout by several opposition party lawmakers.
The changes have to be approved by President Ramnath Kovind. “Politics is being played on the farm bills.
“Farmers are being misled,’’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during an address to BJP workers.
The BJP launched a two-week awareness campaign in seven states to educate farmers about the benefits of the new laws. (dpa/NAN)
– Sept. 25, 2020 @ 12:59 GMT |