In the face of peasants’ anger, India announces repeal of agricultural reform laws

The about-face is surprising. After a year of massive protests by angry farmers, India has finally decided to repeal three agricultural reform laws. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday, November 19:

“We will begin the constitutional process of repealing these three laws during the parliamentary session which begins at the end of the month. “

“I call on all farmers participating in the protests to return home, to reunite with their loved ones, their farms and their families, on this auspicious day of Guru Purab”, the anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism, continued the Indian prime minister. “Let’s make a new start and move forward”, he added.

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” Excellent news “

The weight of the agricultural sector is considerable in India, ensuring the subsistence of nearly 70% of its inhabitants (to the number of 1.3 billion, and contributing to approximately 15% of the GDP.

“What I did, I did for the farmers. What I do, I do for the country ”, said the 71-year-old head of government. “I want to assure you today that you work harder so that your dreams can be realized, that the dreams of the country can be realized”, he promised.

Amarinder Singh, former chief minister of the opposition party Congress of the State of Punjab, where many protesters come from, immediately welcomed Mr. Modi’s announcement, calling it” excellent news “.

“Thanks to PM @narendramodi ji for acceding to requests from all [habitants du Pendjab] and to have repealed the three black laws on the occasion of the #GuruNanakJayanti ”, reacted Amarinder Singh on Twitter. “I am sure that the central government will continue to work together for the development of [l’agriculture] », he added.

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Violent protests

Agricultural reforms were passed in September 2020 to allow farmers to sell their products to buyers of their choice, rather than turning exclusively to state-controlled markets ensuring them a minimum support price for certain commodities. Many small farmers have opposed it since November 2020 during major demonstrations, considering themselves threatened by this liberalization which, according to them, risks forcing them to sell off their goods to large companies to sell them.

Since then, the protesters have camped on the roads at the gates of New Delhi, where a solidarity network has been set up. Every day, tractors deliver carts of wood and food to them. This agricultural movement is one of the biggest challenges the country has had to face since Narendra Modi came to power in 2014.

The protests took a particularly violent turn in January during a rally of farmers who came with their tractors to New Delhi on the National Day celebrating the Indian Republic. The protest then turned into clashes with the police during which a farmer lost his life and hundreds of police were injured.

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Eight people died in Uttar Pradesh state last month, including four farmers, in clashes during a visit by Home Affairs Minister Ajay Mishra.

In recent months, while the sites of the peasant protest have become sparse, a contingent of determined activists have remained in place and major protests are expected this month to mark the first anniversary of their standoff with the government.

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In the face of peasants’ anger, India announces repeal of agricultural reform laws