NEW DELHI (AP) – Thousands of farmers in and around the Indian capital continued to protest on Saturday against agricultural legislation that they said could destroy crop prices while the government negotiated with their leaders.
Some protesters burned the image of Prime Minister Modi and shouted “Le Modival” as they gathered on the border between New Delhi and Haryana.
Protesting farmers were able to enter New Delhi late Friday after clashing with police for a day using tear gas, water cannons and baton.
Television footage showed some of them moving to the capital while thousands still remain on the outskirts of the city. The India Press Trust news agency reported that several protesters were heading to New Delhi from the north of Punjab.
Many farmers have been camping on the highways in Punjab and Haryana for the past two months to protest the adoption of the legislation. According to them, the laws could stop the government from buying grain at a guaranteed price and could result in companies exploiting those who buy their crops cheaply. They want the laws to be scrapped.
According to the government, the legislation will facilitate the necessary agricultural reforms that will allow farmers to market their products freely and boost production through private investment.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said she invited farmers ’representatives to talks on 3 December.
“We’ve talked before and we’re still ready for negotiations,” Tomar said late Friday.
Farmers did not receive an immediate response. The protesters said they would not return to their homes until their demands were met.
“We are fighting for our rights. We will not rest until we reach the capital and force the government to repeal these black laws, ”said Majhinder Singh Dhaliwal, one of the leaders.
Opposition parties and some mod allies called the laws anti-farm and anti-corporate.
Farmers have long been considered the heart and soul of India, where agriculture supports more than half of the country’s 1.3 billion people. But farmers have also seen their economic influence diminish over the past three decades. Once a third of India’s gross domestic product, they now produce only 15% of gross domestic product, valued at $ 2.9 trillion a year.
Farmers often complain about their disregard and often protest to demand better crop prices, more credit exemptions and an irrigation system to provide water during times of dry spells.