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India: Farmers continue protest as talks fail yet again

India: Farmers continue protest as talks fail yet again
Thousands of farmers have gathered outside Indian capital demanding new agriculture laws be repealed

By Ahmad Adil

NEW DELHI (AA) - Thousands of Indian farmers have camped outside the capital New Delhi to protest against new laws that they claim will destroy their livelihoods after a fresh round of talks failed with the government.

"Yesterday there were talks between the farmer groups' representatives and government… the talks didn't reach any conclusion. There is another round of talks tomorrow," Rakesh Tikait, a senior member of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, a farmer group, told Anadolu Agency on Friday.

Most of the farmers are from the northern Punjab state. They are blocking the entryway to New Delhi after police did not allow them to enter the capital.

"We will not end the protest, until the government repeals the laws," said Tikait.

On Thursday, 40 farmer leaders met senior Indian government ministers and held a long meeting to resolve the matter. In a late night statement, the government said the meeting was held in a "cordial and frank atmosphere."

"This was the fourth round of talks which was held in a cordial and frank atmosphere. The Unions have agreed to further participate in the next meeting on 5th December," it said.

In September, the Indian government announced three agricultural reforms, which the farmers and experts believe will further exploit them and threaten the food security of the country.

The government claims the new laws will give farmers greater autonomy to set their own prices and sell directly to supermarket chains. However, farmers say it would leave them worse off. They are asking the government to define minimum prices for crops so that they are not exploited by big chains.

The protests by farmers are taking place at a time when the country's coronavirus cases are inching toward the 10-million mark.

On Friday, nearly 37,000 new infections were registered to take the total cases to 9.57 million. The COVID-19 death toll in the country has also reached 139,188.

- New Delhi summons Canadian diplomat

Meanwhile on Friday, India's External Affairs Ministry summoned Canadian High Commissioner in New Delhi Nadir Patel over the comments made by the Canadian premier and other leaders regarding the ongoing farmers' protests.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while speaking at an online event had said that the news coming out of India was "concerning" and "Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protest."

The ministry told the diplomat that comments by the Canadian leadership "constitute an unacceptable interference in our internal affairs," according to a statement.

Underlining that such actions "would have a seriously damaging impact on ties" between New Delhi and Ottawa, the ministry said these comments have encouraged gatherings of "extremist activities in front of High Commission and Consulates in Canada that raise issues of safety and security."

"We expect the Canadian Government to ensure the fullest security of Indian diplomatic personnel and its political leaders to refrain from pronouncements that legitimize extremist activism," it said.

On Thursday, the Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava also harshly criticized Trudeau for his "ill-informed comments."

"Such comments are unwarranted, especially when pertaining to the internal affairs of a democratic country. It is also best that diplomatic conversations are not misrepresented for political purposes," said Srivastava.

*Shuriah Naizi in New Delhi, India, contributed to this report

source: News Feed
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