India's Modi to repeal controversial farm laws

NEW DELHI (REUTERS, AFP) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday (Nov 19) he had decided to repeal three controversial farm laws against which farmers have protested for more than a year.

“Today I have come to tell you, the whole country, that we have decided to withdraw all three agricultural laws,” Mr Modi said in an address to the nation.

“In the parliament session starting later this month, we will complete the constitutional process to repeal these three agricultural laws.”

“I appeal to all the farmers who are part of the protest… to now return to your home, to your loved ones, to your farms, and family.” 

“Let’s make a fresh start and move forward,” he added, appealing to farmers on Guru Purab, the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.

The legislation will be withdrawn by the end of the month, Mr Modi said.

“The purpose of the new laws was to strengthen the country’s farmers, especially small farmers,” he said. “We have failed to convince some farmers despite all our efforts.”

Thousands of farmers – many of them Sikhs from the northern agrarian Punjab state – have been camped out on the borders of the capital New Delhi since November 2020 in one of the biggest challenges to Mr Modi’s government.

About two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion population draw their livelihood from farming and the sector has long been a political minefield.

Mr Modi’s government said the reforms would help fix a sector that it says is massively inefficient.

But farmers feared the changes would have left them at the mercy of big corporations.

The protests took a violent turn in January when a tractor rally in Delhi transformed into a rampage that left one farmer dead and hundreds of police officers injured.

Last month another eight people died in clashes in Uttar Pradesh state.

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