Indian police agree to allow protesting farmers into capital

Full Screen
1 / 20

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

A farmer throws back a tear gas shells towards policemen, at the border between Delhi and Haryana state, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. Thousands of agitating farmers in India faced tear gas and baton charge from police on Friday after they resumed their march to the capital against new farming laws that they fear will give more power to corporations and reduce their earnings. While trying to march towards New Delhi, the farmers, using their tractors, cleared concrete blockades, walls of shipping containers and horizontally parked trucks after police had set them up as barricades and dug trenches on highways to block roads leading to the capital. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

NEW DELHI – Thousands of angry Indian farmers protesting new agricultural laws were allowed to enter the capital late Friday after they clashed with police who had blocked them at the outskirts of New Delhi.

The farmers, who fear new legislation will reduce their earnings and give more power to corporations, will be escorted to a protest site in New Delhi, police said in a statement. It was not immediately clear where the protests would be held.

For the last two months, farmer unions have rejected the laws, which were passed in September, and have camped on highways in Punjab and Haryana states. They say the measure could cause the government to stop buying grain at guaranteed prices and result in their being exploited by corporations that would buy their crops at cheap prices.

The government says the laws are needed to reform agriculture by giving farmers the freedom to market their produce and boosting production through private investment.

The farmers began their march to the capital on Thursday to pressure Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to abolish the laws, but were stopped by large numbers of security personnel in riot gear on the boundary between New Delhi and Haryana state.

They resumed their march early Friday, unfazed by overnight rain and chilly winter temperatures.

Heading toward New Delhi on tractors and cars, the farmers were again blocked by police at the capital's fringes. This led to clashes with police, who used tear gas, water cannons and baton charges to push them back.

In response, farmers used tractors to clear walls of concrete, shipping containers and parked trucks set up by police on roads leading to the capital.