As part of measures aimed at forcing government to consider plight of primary workers in agricultural sector, farmers across India have begun a 24-hour relay hunger strike to protest against new agriculture bills
The hunger strike, farmers leaders claimed, was to step up pressure on the nation’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to repeal three agricultural reform laws considered to whittle down farmers fortune.
Confirming the development, a prominent protest leader, Yogendra Yadav, said that the food-free strike was to protest against the new laws approved by parliament in September without much debate from necessary stakeholders, including the farmers.
According to him, farmers are afraid that the new laws could pave the way for ending state procurement of crops, while helping big retail buyers.
“We are going on a 24-hour relay hunger strike, skipping meals, to press our demands of repealing three agricultural laws,” Yadav said.
Furthermore, he called on all farmers supporters across the country to skip one meal on Dec. 23, in solidarity with the protests against new laws.
Meanwhile, Modi’s government is urging the farmers to engage in further talks to end a deadlock that has led to thousands camping on the outskirts of New Delhi for more than three weeks.
The protesters have blocked roads connecting the national capital with neighbouring states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, hitting public transport and the supply of fruit and vegetables.
Modi has defended the laws saying these would help increase farmers’ income as it would encourage more private investments in cold-stores, procurement, and distribution.
More than 30 protesters have died in recent weeks, mainly due to the cold as they were sleeping in the open with temperatures falling to 4 degree Celsius, farmer leaders said.
Farmers’ leaders also called upon their supporters to boycott Modi’s monthly radio address.
“People should bang their utensils at home on Sunday when Modi speaks up on radio,” Jagjit Singh Dallewal, president of the Bharti Kisan Union, said.