Nov. 27 (UPI) — Thousands of farmers clashed with police in India on Friday during protests over the country’s new laws allowing farmers to sell directly to private buyers.
Police used tear gas, water cannons and barricades to try to stop the farmers from entering Delhi to protest against the laws, which they fear will leave them vulnerable to large corporations.
A Delhi Police spokesperson told Al Jazeera that farmers were granted permission to enter the capital city and protest peacefully at the Nirankari Samagam Ground in the Burari area away from the center of the city.
“The government doesn’t care about the farmers. It’s trying to destroy us and help big corporates,” farmer Sukhdev Singh told Al Jazeera. “We don’t want to jam the roads. We just want to march to Delhi, but it’s the government which is resorting to violence and blocking roads and causing inconvenience to people.”
After clashes, police escorted farmers to a protest site and urged them to continue demonstrations peacefully.
Farmers associations estimated that 50,000 farmers would participate in the march, which began early this week as farmers from neighboring Haryana state set out for the capital city.
“They are traveling with trolleys full of rice and grains and are cooking their own food. They say they’re ready for a long battle,” BBC Hindi’s Dilnawaz Pasha reported.
The new laws, first introduced in September, seek to loosen rules related to the sale, pricing and storage of agricultural products. Farmers worry about losing the income protections of the government-controlled wholesale market, which includes an assured minimum price.
The Bharatiya Janata Party said the new laws will increase farm incomes and productivity.