Indian farmers squat on railroad tracks to celebrate Reuters protests for four months


© Reuters. Farmers protest against farm laws in Ghaziabad


By Devjyot Ghoshal and Adnan Abidi

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Dozens of farmers crouched on railroad tracks in northern India on Friday disrupting traffic on the occasion of a four-month campaign against opening up agricultural product markets to private actors.

Tens of thousands of farmers have been encamping on the outskirts of the capital New Delhi since last year. New agricultural laws enacted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will extradite them to large corporations.

The unions called for a nationwide shutdown of 12 hours to keep up pressure on the Modi government. The reforms will help farmers get better prices for their products and make investments.

“Four months ago, on that day, the farmers came to the borders of Delhi with their demands. But this government does not listen to the farmers,” said union leader Gurinder Singh Pannu

“This protest continues,” he added.

In the northern states of Haryana and Punjab, protesters blocked railroad tracks at 32 locations, leading to the cancellation of at least four passenger trains.

“Around 30 trains are being held up,” Deepak Kumar, an Indian railroad spokesman, told Reuters.

Freight traffic was also affected. Around 20 freight trains are currently blocked, said Kumar.

In a large protest camp in Delhi’s Ghazipur, protesters blocked a highway that connects the capital with the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh.

The police also erected additional barricades with accordion wire, and hundreds of workers had been deployed.

Of around a thousand demonstrators on site, some danced and sang on Friday. “Take back the black laws,” they sang in Hindi.

Several rounds of talks between the government and the farm leaders have failed and no new meetings are currently planned.

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