Protest against India’s new farm laws reignites in New Delhi as farmers stage sit-in near parliament

22 Jul, 2021 by

Farmers shout slogans during a sit-in protest against the farm laws, near the parliament house in New Delhi, India, July 22, 2021. © REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Protests against India’s troubled new agricultural laws have broken out in New Delhi, as farmers staged a sit-in near parliament on Thursday, to urge the government to repeal the legislation that they claim threatens their future.

New Delhi police escorted hundreds of farmers as they arrived in the capital, to a protest site in the center of the city on Thursday morning, marking the latest demonstration in the seven-month-long protests. Some protesters accused the police of tightening security at the demonstration site and of checking identity cards prior to their arrival.

“We are here to remind the government again that the anti-farmer laws need to be rolled back to protect Indian agriculture and millions of poor farmers from a complete takeover by large corporations,” the leader of the farmers’ Bharatiya Kisan Union, Rakesh Tikait, declared ahead of the sit-in.

A number of Indian MPs were seen joining the demonstrations to show their solidarity with farmers, as the protesters sought to remind the government of what is sees as an urgent need to repeal the legislation and to bring back the protections that had previously been in place.

The government claims that the three laws, passed in September, will transform the nation’s agriculture and allow for private investment to come into the farming sector, such as private contracts between farmers and corporate investors. However, farmers have argued that the new laws open them up to exploitation within the free market and could potentially allow for companies to impose unfavorable contracts on them that will hurt their profits. 

Two opposition figures within the country’s parliament, Rahul Gandhi and Harsimrat Kaur Badal, reiterated the calls from protesters, urging the government to address the concerns of farmers and repeal the legislation. To show their support for the protests, Gandhi’s Congress party gathered at the parliament to display signs demanding the government ‘Save the country. Save the farmers.’

The sit-in comes months after violence first broke out between farmers and police at the Red Fort complex in New Delhi. Clashes occurred when demonstrators broke through barricades and roadblocks that had been erected to control the crowds, prompting police to fire tear gas in an unsuccessful attempt to disperse the protests. One protester was killed and 86 police officers were injured in that violence.