Monday, 24 January, 2022
E-paper

Indian farmers head home after year-long protest

Indian farmers head home after year-long protest

Popular News

NEW DELHI: Thousands of Indian farmers packed their belongings and dismantled tent cities on the outskirts of Delhi Saturday as they headed home following a year-long protest against the government's agriculture policies, reports AFP.

In a rare retreat last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced and pushed through parliament the repeal of three contentious laws that farmers claimed would let private companies control the country's agriculture sector.

Hundreds of farmers danced and celebrated the victory early Saturday as they began removing roadblocks and dismantling thousands of makeshift homes along major highways.

They lit firecrackers, hugged each other and distributed sweets as blaring loudspeakers played patriotic and revolutionary songs dedicated to the agitation.

At Singhu, one of the protest sites, long queues of lorries and tractors packed the highway heading north into their home states of Haryana and Punjab.

Farmers in India have political heft due to their sheer numbers -- tens of thousands had camped out since November 2020 to protest against the laws in the biggest challenge to the Modi government since it came to power in 2014.

"We were determined to protest as long as it had taken. But all of us are happy that the government accepted our demands and we are going back to our homes," Sativinder Singh, one of the Singhu protesters, told AFP.

"It is a big day for the farmers as we can peacefully go back to our homes," he said.

Protesters had initially refused to leave the sites despite the repeal of the legislation, pressing other demands including a legal guarantee for minimum benchmark rates for their produce.

Some Indian states and central government set minimum prices for crops every year but farmers have long demanded a law to ensure income stability.

The government said it will form a commission on fixing minimum crop prices and promised to stop prosecuting farmers for burning stubble that is blamed for polluting Delhi's air every winter.