- Farmers have threatened to go on a hunger strike beginning from Monday
- Major highways have been blocked by protesters in Delhi and its outskirts
- Delhi Police have tightened security at various borders
NEW DELHI: The ongoing farmers’ protest in India escalated on Sunday after thousands of angry farmers started blocking highways and camping on the outskirts of New Delhi, while many demonstrators have now started marching towards Kadli to block major thoroughfares, including Delhi-Jaipur Highways.
According to Indian media, Delhi Police have tightened security at various borders as the protest has entered its 18th day today.
However, farmer leaders have announced the closure of major roads connecting Delhi and a hunger strike beginning from Monday.
On Saturday, over 4,000 policemen were deployed in Gurgaon and Haryana to stop the farmers from occupying highways.
The laws are meant to bring reforms and increase farmers’ income, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier said on Saturday in what was seen as a renewed assurance from the government.
Why are farmers protesting in India?
Farmers say the laws threaten their livelihoods. Although various farmer unions have backed the demonstration, the protest is largely led by growers from Punjab and Haryana in India’s north.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government and leaders of the protesting farmers’ unions have held several rounds of talks but a deadlock persists over the parliamentary bills passed in September.
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Indian farmers have been struggling for years due to low crop prices and rising costs, demonetisation, and widespread droughts despite government subsidies and income tax exemptions. Many farmers have fallen into debt, leading to a rise in suicide rates in recent years.
Farmer leaders say wholesale markets would lose their relevance and even gradually cease to exist if large buyers are allowed to buy directly from growers. They stressed that without offering an alternative arrangement to small growers, such as private markets or direct-purchase centres, the new rule does not make any sense.