Farmers Protest India: Thousands join the rally in UP

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Tens of thousands of farmers in India are protesting against new agriculture laws in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

As per the local police, the number of farmers gathered was over half a million. But an AFP photographer said at least 50,000 farmers and supporters took part.

The farmers want state authorities to revoke controversial farm legislation.

This rally is described as the biggest protest since the farmers started their movement, since last November – by the organisers.

For days, buses and tractors have been carrying farmers into the city of Muzaffarnagar, flickering a major security operation.

According to the Indian government, the change of rules will loosen the ways of how farmers can sell their crops. Further giving them more freedom.

But opponents say the reforms leave small farmers vulnerable to big corporations.

Numerous protestors gathered on the streets of Muzaffarnagar on Sunday with brandishing flags and wearing coloured caps.

They were accompanied by their leaders and pledged to occupy all roads in a 12-mile (20km) radius around the city.

Thousands of police officers were present keeping an eye on the event and guarded the streets.

Farmers

Protest leaders said the rally in Uttar Pradesh, where farming is perilous to livelihoods, would re-energise the movement.

“We’ll intensify our protest by going to every single city and town of Uttar Pradesh to convey the message that Modi’s government is anti-farmer,” Rakesh Tikait said.

The farmers are calling for a nationwide strike on 27 September to protest against the laws.

Thousands have been rallying against the changes for months, blocking major streets in the capital Delhi.

At Sunday’s rally, protest leaders vowed to continue their demonstrations until the laws are dropped.

“We will not leave the protest site [in Delhi] even if our graveyard is made there. We will lay down our lives if needed, but will not leave the protest site until we emerge victorious,” Mr Tikait said, ANI reported.

Key state elections will be held in Uttar Pradesh next year, and protesters styled the rally as a warning to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose Bharatiya Janata Party governs the state.

“Our message is very clear – either repeal the laws or face defeat in the state election,” said farmers’ leader Balbir Singh Rajewal.

 

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