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Farmers stage day-long hunger strike, continue to protest against new farm reform laws

Thousands of farmers have been camping at Delhi's border since November 2020, seeking the repeal of laws that they say will favour large businesses and corporations, devastate the earnings of many farmers and leave those with small plots behind.

January 31, 2021 / 01:54 PM IST
Farmers who have been participating in the protest against the three new agriculture reform laws for over two months, held a day-long hunger strike on January 30, as they sought to reaffirm the peaceful nature of their movement following recent violent clashes with police. (Image: AP)
Farmers who have been participating in the protest against the three new agriculture reform laws for over two months, held a day-long hunger strike on January 30, as they sought to reaffirm the peaceful nature of their movement following recent violent clashes with police. (Image: AP)
Farmer leaders said the hunger strike was timed to coincide with the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who was famed for his non-violent resistance to British colonial rule. Nevertheless, the protesters said they remained furious at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government. “The way the government is spreading planned lies and violence is condemnable," said a statement from the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, or United Farmers’ Front, a coalition of farmers’ unions. (Image: AP)
Farmer leaders said the hunger strike was timed to coincide with the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who was famed for his non-violent resistance to British colonial rule. Nevertheless, the protesters said they remained furious at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government. “The way the government is spreading planned lies and violence is condemnable," said a statement from the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, or United Farmers’ Front, a coalition of farmers’ unions. (Image: AP)
Tens of thousands of farmers have been camped on the edge of New Delhi since November last year, seeking the repeal of laws passed in September 2020 that they say will favour large agri-businesses and corporations, devastate the earnings of many farmers and leave those with small plots behind. PM Modi and his allies say the laws are necessary to modernise Indian agriculture. Multiple rounds of talks between the two sides have been unsuccessful. (Image: AP)
Tens of thousands of farmers have been camped on the edge of New Delhi since November last year, seeking the repeal of laws passed in September 2020 that they say will favour large agri-businesses and corporations, devastate the earnings of many farmers and leave those with small plots behind. PM Modi and his allies say the laws are necessary to modernise Indian agriculture. Multiple rounds of talks between the two sides have been unsuccessful. (Image: AP)
The protests had largely been peaceful but violence erupted on January 26 -- Republic Day -- when tens of thousands of farmers riding tractors and marching on foot knocked out police barricades and stormed Delhi's 17th century Red Fort in a brief but shocking takeover. (Image: AP)
The protests had largely been peaceful but violence erupted on January 26 -- Republic Day -- when tens of thousands of farmers riding tractors and marching on foot knocked out police barricades and stormed Delhi's 17th century Red Fort in a brief but shocking takeover. (Image: AP)
The clashes left one protester dead and nearly 400 police officers injured. Officials did not say how many farmers were injured, but many were seen bloodied after police in riot gear hit them with batons and fired tear gas. Tensions have remained high since, with sporadic clashes between protesters, police and unidentified groups shouting anti-farmer slogans. On January 29, a group of around 200 people barged into one protest site despite heavy security, threw stones at farmers and damaged their tents. (Image: AP)
The clashes left one protester dead and nearly 400 police officers injured. Officials did not say how many farmers were injured, but many were seen bloodied after police in riot gear hit them with batons and fired tear gas. Tensions have remained high since, with sporadic clashes between protesters, police and unidentified groups shouting anti-farmer slogans. On January 29, a group of around 200 people barged into one protest site despite heavy security, threw stones at farmers and damaged their tents. (Image: AP)
The group demanded that farmers vacate the area and said they had “insulted” the national flag during their tractor parade on Republic Day. The farmers alleged that the vandals were largely made up of members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). (Image: AP)
The group demanded that farmers vacate the area and said they had “insulted” the national flag during their tractor parade on Republic Day. The farmers alleged that the vandals were largely made up of members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). (Image: AP)
On January 30, authorities blocked mobile internet services at three protest sites. The Home Ministry said internet services would remain suspended until January 31 to “maintain public safety.” Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait said the government was “in delusion if it feels our movement will be weakened” by suspending the internet. “The more they try to crush the voice of the farmers, the greater this movement will become,” Tikait tweeted. (Image: AP)
On January 30, authorities blocked mobile internet services at three protest sites. The Home Ministry said internet services would remain suspended until January 31 to “maintain public safety.” Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait said the government was “in delusion if it feels our movement will be weakened” by suspending the internet. “The more they try to crush the voice of the farmers, the greater this movement will become,” Tikait tweeted. (Image: AP)
In a rare show of unity, 16 opposition parties boycotted a parliamentary address by President Ram Nath Kovind. (Image: AP)
In a rare show of unity, 16 opposition parties boycotted a parliamentary address by President Ram Nath Kovind. (Image: AP)
Both sides appeared to be growing more entrenched. (Image: AP)
Both sides appeared to be growing more entrenched. (Image: AP)
The farmers, meanwhile, have seen their ranks swell by thousands more new protesters since a video of Tikait breaking down in tears while talking to reporters was shared widely on social media on January 28. “Our movement has gained strength after the Republic Day rally. We have decided that we won’t go back," said Sukhdev Singh, another farmer leader who was taking part in hunger strike. “If we are to die, we will die here.” (Image: AP)
The farmers, meanwhile, have seen their ranks swell by thousands more new protesters since a video of Tikait breaking down in tears while talking to reporters was shared widely on social media on January 28. “Our movement has gained strength after the Republic Day rally. We have decided that we won’t go back," said Sukhdev Singh, another farmer leader who was taking part in hunger strike. “If we are to die, we will die here.” (Image: AP)
Associated Press
first published: Jan 31, 2021 01:54 pm

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