Western Morning News
Thousands of farmers in Indian protest march
TENS of thousands of protesting farmers drove long lines of tractors into India’s capital, New Delhi, yesterday, breaking through police barricades, defying barrages of tear gas and storming the city’s historic Red Fort as the nation celebrated Republic Day.
They waved farm union and religious flags from the ramparts of the fort, where prime ministers annually hoist the national flag to mark the country’s independence. Thousands more marched on foot or rode on horseback, shouting slogans against prime minister Narendra Modi.
Police said one protester had died after his tractor overturned, but farmers claimed he was shot. Several bloodied protesters were seen. Leaders of the farmers said more than 10,000 tractors joined the protest.
For nearly two months, farmers – many of them Sikhs from Punjab and Haryana states – have camped at the edge of the capital, blockading highways connecting it with the country’s north in a rebellion that has rattled the government. The farmers are demanding the withdrawal of new laws which they say will commercialise agriculture and devastate farmers’ earnings.
Riot police fired tear gas and water cannons at numerous places to push back the rows of tractors, which nevertheless shoved aside concrete and steel barricades.
Authorities blocked roads with large trucks and buses in an attempt to stop the farmers from reaching the centre of the capital, but thousands managed to reach some important landmarks.