|  |  | 

India Top Headlines

Farm Laws: US Calls for Dialogue to Resolve Protests | India News


NEW DELHI: The US embassy in New Delhi on Thursday urged the Indian government to resume talks with farmers angered by agricultural reforms that triggered a months-long protest campaign.
Largely restricted to the outskirts of New Delhi, the mostly peaceful protests were marred by violence on January 26, as some protesters entered the heart of the capital after the Republic Day military parade and clashed with police.
Farmers’ Protest: Live Updates
Internationally broadcast television footage of protesters occupying the walls of New Delhi’s historic Red Fort and then clashing with police raised awareness of the clash between the Modi government and farmers.
“We encourage any dispute between the parties to be resolved through dialogue,” a spokesman for the US embassy said in a statement that also offered general support for government measures to “improve the efficiency of Indian markets and attract increased private sector investment. ”
Prime Minister Modi’s government has held multiple rounds of talks with representatives of farmers who have camped by the thousands on the outskirts of the capital since late 2020, but it has not been reported when the talks will resume following the violence on the Day of the Republic.
Farmers argue that three new farm laws will hurt their interests and benefit big business.
But the government says the reforms will bring much-needed investment to an agricultural sector, which accounts for nearly 15% of India’s $ 2.9 trillion economy but employs roughly half of its workforce.
The farmers’ cause has also been supported by the Indian diaspora in Australia, Great Britain, Canada and the United States.
In late November, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau drew the ire of India by speaking about the protests in a video message, saying he was concerned about farmers. New Delhi said such comments were “unacceptable interference in our internal affairs.”
Barricades above, internet below
Police remain on guard against further attempts by farmers to bring their mass protest to the capital and have reinforced barricades at three main sites.
Earlier this week, internet services were temporarily suspended in some areas, drawing widespread criticism, including from international activists and celebrities.
“We recognize that unimpeded access to information, including the Internet, is fundamental to freedom of expression and a hallmark of a prosperous democracy,” said the spokesman for the US embassy.
In response to posts on social media about internet shutdowns, the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that vested interest groups were mobilizing international support against the country.
There was no immediate response from the ministry to the US comments on Thursday.
Agricultural union leaders have been calling for the new laws to be repealed and for the government’s crop price guarantee scheme to be legally binding, and for legal cases against the protesters to be dropped.
However, some farmer groups have expanded their list of demands.
At a rally in Haryana on Wednesday, thousands of farmers from the politically influential Jat community backed a call to forgo farm loans and raise prices for crops paid by the government.
“If the government does not give in to our demands, thousands more farmers will march to Delhi,” said Kek Ram Kandela, a leader among Jat farmers, at the rally attended by more than 50,000 people.

Times of India