By Mayank Bhardwaj
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian farmers, protesting three new farm laws they say threaten their livelihoods, will launch a sit-in near parliament in the center of the capital New Delhi, in a renewed push to pressure the government. to repeal the laws.
In the longest-running producer protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, tens of thousands of farmers have camped on the main roads leading to New Delhi for more than seven months.
When the monsoon session of India’s parliament started this week, some protesting farmers tried to march into the main government district, but were stopped by police a few kilometers from parliament.
On Thursday, 200 protesters will gather at Jantar Mantar, a large Mughal-era observatory in central New Delhi that functions as a protest site for all kinds of causes.
“During the monsoon parliamentary session, 200 farmers will go to Jantar Mantar every day to hold a farmers’ parliament to remind the government of our long-pending lawsuit,” said Balbir Singh Rajewal, a prominent farmer leader.
The monsoon session of parliament will end in early August.
After lengthy negotiations, Delhi police agreed to allow 200 farmers to gather for the day in Jantar Mantar, but protesters must follow guidelines on coronavirus issued by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, according to a government statement.
In late January, thousands of angry farmers clashed with police after crashing their tractors into security barriers. A protester was killed and more than 80 policemen were injured across the city.
Farmers say the laws favor large private retailers who, prior to the new laws, were not allowed to purchase agricultural products outside of government-regulated wholesale grain markets.
The government says the laws, introduced in September 2020, will free farmers from having to sell their produce only in regulated wholesale markets.
He argues that farmers will benefit if large traders, retailers and food processors can buy directly from producers.
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