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Indian Police Teargas Protesting Farmers In New Delhi

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Indian police resorted to firing tear gas on Wednesday to disperse protesting farmers as they resumed their march towards the capital, equipped with cranes and excavators, after talks with the government failed to yield any breakthrough on guaranteed prices for their produce.

To evade the effects of the tear gas and smoke, thousands of farmers, some donning medical masks, sought refuge in the fields surrounding their assembly point on a highway approximately 200 kilometres north of New Delhi.

The police intervention came amidst a fresh offer from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to resume discussions on the farmers’ demands.

Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda implored the farmers to address their grievances through dialogue. “After the fourth round, the government is ready to discuss all the issues,” Munda stated on the social network X, as the march recommenced. “I again invite the farmer leaders for discussion. It is important for us to maintain peace.”

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On Monday, the farmers’ groups had rebuffed the government’s earlier proposal for five-year contracts and guaranteed support prices for various crops, including corn, cotton, and pulses.

Hailing mostly from the northern state of Punjab, the farmers have been clamouring for higher prices backed by legislation for their produce. They constitute a significant voting bloc that Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot afford to alienate with general elections looming by May.

The farmers set out on their march at 0630 WAT from the point where authorities had halted them by erecting barricades on the Punjab-Haryana border, effectively blocking a crucial highway. “It is not right that such massive barricades have been placed to stop us,” remarked one of the farmers’ leaders, Jagjit Singh Dallewal. “We want to march to Delhi peacefully. If not, they should accede to our demands.”

As police in riot gear lined both sides of the highway, the farmers, assembling amid the morning fog, brandished colourful flags bearing the symbols of their unions, while loudspeakers urged them to stand up for their rights. Television footage captured some farmers wearing gas masks.

In a late-night development on Tuesday, the chief of Haryana police ordered the immediate seizure of heavy equipment brought by the farmers to prevent its potential use in dismantling barricades.

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Additionally, the police warned against the risk of stone-throwing, citing the presence of armed protesters armed with sticks and stones.

About 10,000 individuals, accompanied by 1,200 tractors and wagons, had gathered at Shambhu on the state border on Wednesday, according to police in Haryana.

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi



Source link: Arise News/

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