Indian farmers will begin a sit-in outside parliament in the heart of the capital, New Delhi, in a renewed effort to persuade the government to repeal three new farm regulations that they claim threaten their lives.
Tens of thousands of farmers have camped out on major highways leading to New Delhi for more than seven months in the longest-running growers’ protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
Some protesting farmers attempted to march towards the main government area as India’s monsoon session of parliament began this week, but were stopped by police just miles from parliament.
On Thursday, 200 people are expected to converge at Jantar Mantar, a massive Mughal-era observatory in central New Delhi that also serves as a rallying point for various causes.
“200 farmers would go to Jantar Mantar every day during the monsoon session of parliament to hold farmers’ parliament to remind the government of our long-pending demand,” a major farmers’ leader, Balbir Singh Rajewal, said.
Parliament’s monsoon session will expire in early August.
According to a government statement, Delhi police have agreed to let 200 farmers gather at Jantar Mantar during the day after extensive negotiations, but protesters must adhere to coronavirus standards given by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority.
Thousands of enraged farmers battled with police in late January after ramming their tractors into security barriers. Over 80 police officers were hurt in the city, and one demonstrator was killed.
Farmers claim that the restrictions favor huge private retailers who were previously prohibited from purchasing farm goods outside of government-regulated wholesale grain markets.
Farmers would be freed from having to sell their produce solely at regulated wholesale marketplaces, according to the government, after the regulations take effect in September 2020.
Farmers will benefit if large dealers, retailers, and food processors can buy directly from farmers, according to the report.