Hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers demonstrate against farm laws

Hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers demonstrate against farm laws

MUZAFFARNAGAR, India, Sept. 5 (Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of farmers gathered in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, on Sunday, the largest demonstration so far in a series of months-long rallies to pressure the Narendra government. Modi to repeal three new agricultural laws.

More than 500,000 farmers attended the demonstration in the city of Muzaffarnagar, according to local police.

The demonstration in Uttar Pradesh, a predominantly agricultural state that is home to 240 million people, will give new life to the protest movement, said Rakesh Tikait, a prominent peasant leader.

“We will intensify our protest by going to every city and town in Uttar Pradesh to convey the message that the Modi government is anti-farmer,” he added.

Over the past eight months, tens of thousands of farmers have camped out on the main roads leading to the capital New Delhi to oppose the laws, in India’s oldest farmers’ protest against the government.

The measures, introduced last September, allow farmers to sell their produce directly, outside of government-regulated wholesale markets, to large buyers. The government says this will free up farmers and help them get better prices.

Farmers, however, say the legislation will hurt their livelihoods and leave them with little bargaining power against large private retailers and food processors.

Agriculture is a vast sector that supports nearly half of India’s more than 1.3 billion people, and accounts for about 15% of the country’s $ 2.7 trillion economy.

Balbir Singh Rajewal, another peasant leader, said Sunday’s rally was a warning to Prime Minister Modi and his Bharatiya Janata party, who next year will contest state assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, often seen as a barometer of the popularity of the federal government. .

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“Our message is very clear: Either we repeal the laws or we face defeat in state elections,” he added.

Mayank Bhardwaj Report in Muzaffarnagar; Additional information from Saurabh Sharma in Lucknow and Shilpa Jamkhandikar in Mumbai; Edited by Pravin Char

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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