Farmers shoot down govt offer over crop prices

Not backing down: Protesting farmers facing the police barricade near Shambhu border dividing the northern Punjab and Haryana states. — AP

FARMERS who have been protesting for a week to demand guaranteed crop prices have rejected a proposal from the government, saying they will continue their march to the capital New Delhi.

The protesting farmers began their march last week but their efforts to reach the city have been blocked by authorities, who have used tear gas and heavily barricaded entry points into the capital to avoid a repeat of 2021 farmer protests when they camped on the outskirts for over a year.

On Monday night, farm leaders said they refused the government’s offer of a five-year contract for guaranteed prices for a set of crops, including pulses, maize and cotton.The government’s proposal made last Sunday was “not in the interest of farmers,” Jagjit Singh Dallewal, one of the leaders spearheading the protest, told the Press Trust of India news agency.He added that the farmers, tens of thousands of whom have been camping out some 200km from the capital as they waited for the government offer, will resume their march to New Delhi today.“We appeal to the government to either resolve our issues or remove barricades and allow us to proceed to Delhi to protest peacefully,” Dallewal said.The protests renewed a movement from over two years ago, in which tens of thousands of farmers hunkered down on the edges of New Delhi for over a year against agriculture laws, which the government ended up repealing.

This time, the farmers who rode on tractors from neighbouring Haryana and Punjab states say the government has failed to make progress on other key demands from the previous protests.

The protests come at a crucial time for India, where national elections are expected in the coming months and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party is widely expected to secure a third successive term. — AP

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