Delhli – Thousands of protesting farmers yesterday refused to comply with a government appeal to stop blockading major highways into New Delhi and vowed to intensify their action against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s liberalising reforms.
Tractors and trucks are seen parked on a national highway during a protest against the newly passed farm bills at Singhu border near Delhi
Farmers from states around the capital have been demonstrating for three straight days against reforms that deregulate the sector and allow farmers to sell produce to buyers beyond government-regulated wholesale markets, where growers are assured of a minimum price.
growers fear the changes will make them vulnerable to competition from big
business, and that they could eventually lose price supports for staples such
as wheat and rice.
statement yesterday, an umbrella group representing different farmers’ unions
slammed the government for saying it would engage in talks with the farmers if
they moved their protest off the roads into a designated stadium site.
government, if serious about addressing the demands of farmers, should stop
laying down any conditions and should come straight out with the solution it is
offering,” the statement said.
not fools who would not understand what is in their interest,” said Yogendra
Yadav, president of Swaraj India – an opposition party.
Reacting to Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s advice to farmers to rally in Burari, Sanjay Tyagi, a farmer from Muzaffarnagar, said: “What will we get by going to Burari? Will
come there to seek our votes? If he wishes to talk to farmers, he should come
on the interstate border.”
With key roads blocked, prices of fresh produce at wholesale markets in Delhi have already begun to tick up, and the protests also disrupted commuter travel into the city.
The farmers’ unions called on farmers in other states to expand the protests from tomorrow, while urging farmers in neighbouring states and others to join demonstrations in Delhi.