farmers security

Indian farmers hold flags and show placards during the farmers protest against the Central Government over the three farm laws at Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi on July 22. (ANI photo)

NEW DELHI — More than 200 farmers demonstrated July 22 near India’s Parliament to mark eight months of protests against agricultural laws they say will devastate their livelihoods.

The protesters waving white, green and orange flags arrived in police-escorted buses from an expressway outside New Delhi where thousands of farmers have hunkered down since late November to voice their anger against three laws passed by Parliament last year.

Police are allowing them to congregate for protests each day until Aug. 9 at Jantar Mantar, the main area in New Delhi for protests close to Parliament. The protests coincide with lawmakers meeting for Parliament’s monsoon session.

“We have capped the number of people who will be protesting at 200,” said Darshan Pal, a farmers’ leader.

The arrival of the protesters in the capital with official approval was in sharp contrast with Jan. 26, when tens of thousands of farmers marched, rode horses and drove tractors into New Delhi. The protesters broke through police barricades to storm the historic Red Fort. Clashes with police left one protester dead and hundreds injured.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government says the agriculture laws are necessary to modernize the industry, but farmers say they will leave them poorer and at the mercy of big corporations.

Nearly a dozen rounds of talks with Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar since December have failed to break the stalemate. Tomar on July 22 said he was prepared to resume talks on amending the laws with the farmers, but gave no indication of accepting their main demand for repealing them.

Dozens of lawmakers belonging to the main opposition Congress party, led by Rahul Gandhi, and the Akali Dal waved placards and carried banners with slogans demanding the repeal of the laws at the Parliament building July 22.

Agriculture employs more than half of India’s 1.3 billion people, but shrinking earnings mean it now accounts for only 15% of India’s economy.

The Indian farmers accuse the government of not fulfilling its promise to ensure they earn at least one and a half times the costs they incur in producing their crops.

They also demand that the federal government enact legislation protecting the minimum support prices it sets to protect farmers from market slumps.

IANS reported earlier: Multilayer security has been deployed around Jantar-Mantar, which is just a few meters away from Parliament and where farmers are scheduled to hold a Kisan Sansad to protest against the three contentious farm laws.

The entire area of Jantar-Mantar has been cordoned off.

Delhi police along with central forces including RAF and CRF are deployed to ensure elaborate security arrangements as farmers are scheduled to reach here.

As per the DDMA approval, farmers will be allowed to hold protests at Jantar-Mantar from July 22 to Aug. 9, with maximum of 200 people in attendance.

Farmers are allowed to hold protests against the three farm laws at Jantar-Mantar between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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