Fresh clashes between Indian farmers and police break out at protest site near New Delhi

Fresh clashes between Indian farmers and police break out at protest site near New Delhi

Indian farmers and authorities clashed at a protest site near New Delhi on Friday, with one police officer and a demonstrator injured after tear gas was thrown and stones were pelted at the Singhu border.

The violence occurred after Delhi Traffic Police closed the Singhu border, as well as other crossing points, where farmers have been stationed for several months, as part of protests over reforms to agricultural laws that some farmers claim will devastate their livelihood. 

With authorities limiting travel, anti-farmer and pro-police counter-protesters moved in, throwing stones and damaging the site that has been at the center of the farmers’ demonstrations. Police launched tear gas and conducted baton charges into the crowd.

Further clashes were reported at other protest sites, including Tikri and Delhi-Uttar Pradesh, which had seen a heavy police presence after the local administration supported the removal of thousands of farmers.

Protests have been occurring in India for several months after the government put forward agricultural reforms that farmers believe will see them lose their right to a minimum wage and risk their industry being exploited by large corporations. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has rebuffed criticism from farmers, arguing that the measures will increase their production by opening up the market to private investment, as well as giving farmers more choice over who they sell their goods to. With regards to income concerns, politicians have said there is no need to worry, as they have pledged to guarantee prices for certain crops. In an attempt to placate protesters, the Modi administration has also offered to halt the introduction of the new rules for up to 18 months, but farmers have pushed back, calling for permanent repeal.

The situation has been tense in the area since farmers broke through police barricades and stormed Delhi’s historic Red Fort on Tuesday to coincide with the country’s Republic Day celebrations in violation of previously agreed protest routes. Tuesday’s clashes saw one protester killed and 80 police officers injured. 

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Following the clashes, Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia visited one of the protest sites at the Ghazipur border to meet with farmers and discuss their requests for water and other essentials, as well as raise the requests for them to vacate the site and move to another location. 

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