Thousands of farmers gathered in Muzaffarnagar in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Sunday, demanding the repeal of three new farm laws enacted by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
This was the biggest protests in recent times by the farmers, who plan to organize demonstrations across Uttar Pradesh where local legislative elections are due early next year.
Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait said they would not move out until their demands are met for the repeal of three new laws on agriculture.
The new reforms allow large companies to buy produce from farmers directly. In India, farmers usually sell their produce at local state-registered markets that ensure they receive a minimum support price, which protects them from price shocks in case of a bad crop year.
“We will continue our struggle until all our demands are fulfilled,” said Tikait, addressing the massive gathering.
Meanwhile, a lawmaker from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Varun Gandhi, also extended his support to farmers.
“Hundreds of thousands of farmers have gathered in protest today in Muzaffarnagar. They are our own flesh and blood. We need to start re-engaging with them in a respectful manner: understand their pain, their point of view, and work with them in reaching common ground,” said Varun Gandhi on Twitter.
Hundreds of farmers have been encamped on highways outside the capital New Delhi since November last year against new laws which they say will threaten their livelihoods and benefit large corporations and industrialists.
While several rounds of talks with the government have fallen through, farmer leaders insist on the total repeal of the laws.
In January, the Supreme Court also ordered an indefinite stay on the implementation of the laws, though the farmers still insist on a full repeal.
The movement, one of the biggest challenges Modi has faced since coming to power in 2014, has also drawn international support.
Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.