President of India Ram Nath Kovind speaks during his state visit to Switzerland, at the Muensterplatz in Bern, Switzerland. File/Reuters
Three farm laws passed by the Indian government provide farmers new rights along with protecting their existing rights and facilities, the country’s President Ram Nath Kovind told parliament on Friday.
Angry at what they see as laws that benefit large private buyers at the expense of growers, tens of thousands of farmers have been camped peacefully at sites on the outskirts of Delhi for more than two months.
But a procession of tractors on Tuesday when the country was marking its founding as a republic turned violent when some protesters deviated from pre-agreed routes, tearing down barricades and clashing with police who responded with tear gas.
The violation of law and order on Republic Day was very unfortunate, Kovind said.
“The Modi government has turned this protest movement into an ego issue. They are unable to see the pain of the farmers,” said Amarjeet Singh, a 68-year-old farmer from Punjab state. “They have left us no option but to protest.”
Tens of thousands of farmers have camped out on the outskirts of New Delhi for more than two months, blocking key roads and demonstrating against the laws they say will benefit large private buyers at their expense.
The protests demanding the repeal of new agricultural laws have grown into a rebellion that is rattling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. On Tuesday, more than 10,000 tractors and thousands more people on foot or horseback tried to advance into the capital,
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