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Indian farmers lead massive protest march against Modi’s farm laws on the nation’s 72nd Republic Day

Thousands of protesting farmers begun driving into capital New Delhi on tractors on India’s 72nd Republic Day celebrations.

They have been camping  at the city’s borders for months demanding a roll back of controversial farm laws.

The government has offered to put the reforms on hold, but farmers say they want a repeal.




The rally was expected to begin from six entry points to Delhi and police barricaded all of them – farm groups were told to enter the city only after the Republic Day parade was over.

But farm groups at two different borders – Singhu and Tikri – have reportedly broken through barricades and and have begun their march, on foot and in tractors. Clashes have also broken out between security personnel and protesting farmers. Videos of police using tear gas and force have been doing the rounds on social media since this morning.

They have not been allowed in central Delhi where official celebrations are taking place. The annual parade involves armed forces showcasing their latest equipment and floats from several states presenting their culture on a national stage. The parade is shorter and more muted this year due to the pandemic.



Tractors carrying groups of farmers travelled to the city in the past few days, in addition to thousands that were already blocking several entrance points for more than a month.

Background:

Farmers from all over India, but mostly from Punjab and Haryana have been camping at Delhi’s borders since 26 November 2020 to protest against these laws that brings major changes to the agriculture markets.

Farmer groups who are pressing for a complete repeal of the laws say they will consider the offer. This follows several rounds of failed talks between both sides.

The government has said the reforms will not hurt farmers. But farm groups say the laws threaten decades-old concessions and subsidies they receive, thwart their bargaining power and expose them to private and big corporate companies.

Earlier India’s Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the laws “until further notice”, and appointed an independent committee to broker a deal between the farmers and the government.

The farmers, however, have not accepted the committee saying that all of its panel members are pro-government. One of the members has also stepped down.

India’s vast agriculture sector, which makes up nearly 15% of the country’s economy employs about half of its 1.3 billion people.