Protests Rage, Talks Fail, But Modi Insists New Laws Will 'Benefit Farmers'

Protests Rage, Talks Fail, But Modi Insists New Laws Will 'Benefit Farmers'

As farmers vowed to expand their protests over new farm laws, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday again stated that his government was committed to farmers’ welfare and that the legislation was aimed at giving them alternate markets to boost income.

Without directly referring to the farmers’ agitation, which entered its 17th day on Saturday, Modi said agriculture reforms were part of the government efforts aimed at removing roadblocks, and the new laws will also bring in technology and investment in the sector.

“Reforms will help draw investment in the agriculture sector and benefit farmers,” he said at the annual meeting of industry body FICCI here. “The aim of all government reforms is to make farmers prosperous.”

The new legislation, which was approved in the previous Parliament session, give farmers an additional option outside of the designated mandis to buy or sell their crops, he said. “The idea is to help increase farmer incomes,” Modi said.

Hundreds of farmers from states like Punjab and Haryana have blocked some of the highways leading to Delhi borders for more than two weeks now against the new farm laws which they fear will prompt the government to stop making direct crop purchases at minimum state-set prices, called minimum support price (MSP). They also believe that the government is pandering to large corporate groups, including those run by the Ambanis and Adanis, who are looking for a foothold in the agricultural sector.

The Delhi Police has increased deployment of personnel and placed more concrete barriers at various border points as farmers have announced that they will intensify their protest against the Centre's new Agri laws, with plans to block the Delhi-Jaipur highway and the Yamuna Expressway.

There is no protest yet on Delhi's borders with Gurgaon and at other points of National Highway-8 that connects the national capital with Jaipur, a senior police officer was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

"So far, there is no protest at Delhi-Gurgaon border. There is no disruption in traffic movement. However, we have proper security arrangements in place to deal with any situation," the officer said