India: Farmers Join National Labor Strike by 250 Million People

Protesting farmers shout slogans and face security officers at the border between Delhi and Haryana state, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. Thousands of agitating farmers in India faced tear gas and baton charge from police on Friday after they resumed their march to the capital against new farming laws that they …
AP Photo/Manish Swarup

Farmers in New Delhi continued protests against recently passed agricultural laws on Wednesday for the seventh straight day. The protests have disrupted key transport routes into and out of the national capital of India.

The farmers’ protest joins a greater nationwide general strike organized by Indian labor unions over the past week, in which an estimated 250 million people participated.

“The farmers’ protests … on Wednesday led to the shutting down of key roads connecting Noida and Delhi,” India’s NDTV reported. Noida is a city bordering the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, which contains New Delhi. Both cities are located in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

“The arterial Kalindi Kunj route that links Noida to Delhi’s Okhla [suburb] was briefly shut for traffic. It was later opened,” according to the report.

NDTV cited sources who said that local police on Wednesday “were also preparing to shut down the Delhi-Noida-Delhi expressway, which connects Noida to South Delhi, should the protesting farmers in Uttar Pradesh attempt to march into the national capital.”

“The farmers at the Delhi-Noida border belong to various districts of western Uttar Pradesh,” the Times of India (TOI) reported on Wednesday. According to the newspaper, their goal is to reach the national capital to join a larger protest launched by farmers from the states of Punjab and Haryana against the Indian National Congress’s recent passing of agricultural reform laws. Thousands of farmers traveled to Delhi on November 26 and assembled at the NCT’s border areas to protest the three new laws.

“The farmers are protesting against The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020,” according to TOI.

Labor unions organizing the protests claim the laws deprive agricultural workers of “key labor and farm price protections” and have demanded the Indian National Congress repeal the laws.

On Tuesday night, members of India’s federal government held a meeting with representatives of the protesting farmers
“and offered to set up a committee to look into their demands, which they rejected,” TOI revealed.

“The government also gave a detailed presentation to the farmers’ leaders on the Minimum Support Price and the Agricultural Produce Market Committee Act during the meeting, appealing to them to suspend their protest,” according to the newspaper.

Indian Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told reporters after Tuesday’s meeting that the discussion was “good” and that he and his colleagues would hold an additional talk with the farmers’ representatives on December 3.


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