Thousands of farmers calling for repealing new agricultural laws converged in Haryana on Monday to block major highways and rail tracks to and from Indian capital of New Delhi.
The call for protest was given by Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM). The farmers trade union had issued the call to mark the first anniversary of the passage of contentious farming laws.
Defiant farmers are still camping on key roads outside New Delhi since November last year.
The call for protest was supported by main o[position parties, including the Congress, Samajwadi Party, Aam Aadmi Party, Telugu Desam Party, YSR Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)
The Indian government claims that the laws would lead to the rapid modernization of the country’s farming sector but farmers are wary that these laws pose a potent threat to their livelihoods.
According to the new laws, farmers were able to conduct business outside government-run wholesale markets where they sold their produce at assured prices.
Farmers fear that once sales of farm produce to the corporate sector started, the era of guaranteed prices for cash crops such as rice and wheat would end. They pointed out that farmers in Bihar, where the previous price-fixing system had been scrapped, are already facing miserable conditions because they are getting far lower prices from the corporate sector entities.
The government insists that it is open for talks but it will not discuss even the possibility of repealing these laws.
There were also disruptions in northern Indian states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh while farmers also held protests in southern cities of Chennai and Bengaluru and Kerala state.
Farmers in Uttar Pradesh have also been protesting since November at Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur towns.
Farmers vowed on Monday to continue their protest for “ten years if necessary” but would not allow the “black legislation” to be passed.