Thousands of people jubilantly Indian farmers on saturday cleared the ground protest locations on the outskirts of the capital and began returning home, marking the end of their yearlong protests against agrarian reforms that were abolished by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in a rare retreat.
Farmers have dismantled their makeshift homes at many of the protest sites and started to ditch the long stretches of highways that surround New Delhi where they have camp since last November. Hundreds of them waved blue and white flags and danced to celebrate their victory as they drove tractors, jeeps and cars.
“Farmers saved democracy. It is a fight for justice,” said farmer Nagendra Singh.
After a year of insisting that the new measures would benefit farmers, Modi unexpectedly announced the withdrawal last month. A bill to repeal the laws was officially passed in Parliament 30. But the farmers did not leave the protest sites immediately and said they would continue to protest until the government agreed to other demands, including guaranteed prices. protection of key crops and the withdrawal of criminal cases against protesters.
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On Thursday, the government set up a committee to review those requests.
Modi’s government has insisted that the legislation is the necessary reforms to modernize Indian agriculture and will lead to a deregulated market with more private sector control of agriculture.
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Farmers say the law will significantly reduce their income and leave them in the hands of large corporations. In protest, they demanded the complete repeal of the laws.
They also asked the government to guarantee prices for some essential crops such as wheat and rice. Currently, most farmers only sell to government-run markets at a fixed price.
Farmers form one of India’s most influential voting blocs and Modi’s decision to repeal the law comes ahead of elections early next year in key states like Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, both were important agricultural producers and home to his Bharatiya Janata Party. wish to strengthen its support.
Political analysts say the upcoming election is the main reason behind the surprise move, but it is too early to say whether it will work.
“Modi apologized to the farmers but only after resorting to dictatorship. We are called terrorists. He bowed to the protests because of the upcoming elections,” said Jaigran, another farmer who used only one name.
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Initially, Modi’s government tried to discredit the protesters – mainly Sikh farmers – by dismissing their concern for being fueled by religious nationalism. Some leaders in Modi’s party refer to them as “Khalistanis”, a reference to the movement for an independent Sikh homeland in India.
Such accusations backfired, infuriating farmers and their supporters.
They are largely peaceful but violence broke out on January 26 when thousands of farmers in a short time take over the historic Red Fort of New Delhi in a deeply symbolic move. At least one farmer was killed and several protesters and policemen were injured.
Farmer leaders say more than 500 protesters have died from suicide, cold weather and COVID-19 since November last year, and they insist the government must pay 500,000 rupees ($6,750) in compensation per family family. But the government said it had no figures on the number of people who died during the move.
The leaders said they would review next month the steps taken by the government and decide on their future actions.
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https://globalnews.ca/news/8443128/jubilant-indian-farmers-begin-return-home-following-yearlong-protests/ Happy Indian farmers start to return home after years of protests – National