victorious peasants break camp after years of protests

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After Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to agree to new demands from farmers who have been demonstrating for a year against the government’s land reforms, the demonstrators present around New Delhi finally dispersed.

Thousands of Indian farmers were packing their belongings and dismantling village tents on Saturday (December 11) on the outskirts of New Delhi, in order to return home after a year of protests against the government’s agrarian policies.

Hundreds of people danced and celebrated the “victory” on Saturday morning when roadblocks were lifted and temporary shelters were demolished on major highways.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushed parliament in November to lift three land reforms that protesters say would allow private companies to take control of the country’s agricultural sector.

>> For (back) look at France 24: FOCUS – India: angry peasants continue their mobilization against sector liberalization

However, the protesters initially refused to leave their camp, putting forward other demands, such as guaranteed minimum prices for their agricultural products.

The government has promised to set up a commission on the issue and has pledged to stop legal action against farmers who burn crop stubble, accused of polluting New Delhi’s air every winter.

Termination of criminal proceedings against protesters

Authorities have also agreed to pay compensation to the families of hundreds of farmers they say died during the protests and to halt criminal proceedings against the protesters.

The agricultural law that Narendra Modi wants was passed in September 2020 to authorize farmers to sell their produce to buyers of their choice, rather than turning exclusively to state-controlled markets that guarantee them minimum support prices (PSM) for certain commodities.

>> Also read: India: Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes changes to his agriculture reforms

Many small farmers opposed it, feeling threatened by liberalization which, they argued, could force them to sell their goods to big companies.

After protests in Punjab and northern Haryana, tens of thousands of farmers headed for the capital, where they were pushed back by police, starting a stalemate between the two sides that lasted a year.

The peasant movement has become the biggest crisis for Modi’s government since coming to power in 2014.

With AFP

Cheryl Tenny

"Thinker. Food advocate. Incurable coffee enthusiast. Communicator. Proud student. Zombie buff. Tv fanatic. Extreme troublemaker."

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