By DW News –
Indian farmers called for a one-day nationwide strike on Tuesday after days of blockading New Delhi in a bid to force the government to repeal its new market-friendly farm laws. Tuesday’s strike, called Bharat Bandh, saw tens of thousands of farmers blocking key roads and rail lines across the country, affecting transport services and offices. They have received support from railway workers, truck drivers and other unions, who are joining them in the strike. The farmers have emphasized that the strike is a peaceful protest, and they will ensure that emergency services such as ambulances and fire brigades aren’t affected. The strike comes after five rounds of talks between farmers’ unions and the government failed. The sixth round of talks is scheduled for Wednesday. Tens of thousands of farmers have camped near the border of New Delhi since November 27 to protest the new laws, blocking most of the entry points to the national capital. The farmers have said they will not return home until the laws are repealed. The Indian government issued an advisory to all states and union territories to boost security. Thousands of extra police personnel have been deployed in Delhi and neighboring states where farmers have been protesting for nearly two weeks. In September, India’s parliament passed three controversial agriculture bills aimed at liberalizing the country’s farm sector. They were subsequently signed into law, sparking farmers’ protests across the country. The government argued that the new laws will give freedom to farmers to sell their produce outside regulated markets and enter into contracts with buyers at a pre-agreed price. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) insists that the laws will fetch better prices and free farmers from traditional middlemen who dominate the trade. The government hopes that its new policy will double farmers’ income by 2022. Farmers’ associations say the legislation does not guarantee the acquisition of farm produce through state-run organizations that guarantee a minimum support price (MSP), thus leaving them at the mercy of corporations that are now expected to enter the country’s troubled farming sector. Opposition parties and even some allies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have called the laws anti-farmer and pro-corporation and called on the government to accept the farmers’ demand to roll them back.
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