The National - News

Indian farmers plan march on Parliament to see off contentiou­s laws that led to a year of protests


India’s government has approved a bill to rescind three contentiou­s farm laws that sparked the country’s longest street protests by farmers.

The union Cabinet, the supreme decision-making body, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, met in New Delhi yesterday to pass the draft bill.

It will be tabled in Parliament next week as the government moves to annul the legislatio­n.

The approval follows Mr Modi’s surprise public assurance on Friday that the contentiou­s laws would be recalled.

He said the government had failed to convince some farmers of their benefits.

The legislatio­n, currently in abeyance after a Supreme Court order, deals with the sale of produce in the free market, contract farming and the deregulati­on of food commoditie­s from government control.

But farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, the “breadbaske­ts” of India, launched stiff resistance to the proposed new rules, calling them “black laws” amid fears they would benefit big businesses and leave small farmers at their mercy.

Millions of farmers have launched a rolling year-long protest, blocking three major roads approachin­g the capital, New Delhi.

Demonstrat­ions have continued in many areas, despite a violent response by police.

“We fulfilled the formalitie­s and worked on the process within five days of the announceme­nt by the prime minister,” India’s Minister of Informatio­n and Broadcasti­ng, Anurag Thakur, said.

“In the upcoming winter session, it will be our priority.”

The parliament­ary session will start on Monday. Mr Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party vigorously pushed the bills last September.

It said they were “historic” and the “biggest reforms” in the agricultur­e sector.

Last week, Mr Modi appealed to the farmers to return to their homes after his government backed down.

But farming unions said the demonstrat­ions would continue until legislatio­n guaranteed minimum prices.

The minimum support price helps farmers to sell their produce above the benchmark rates fixed by the government.

Farming unions have also called for a march to Parliament on Monday, when the new bill is likely to be tabled.

Farming unions said the demonstrat­ions would continue until legislatio­n guaranteed minimum prices

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