Indian farmers intensify the protests because the blockade continues by means of new legal guidelines


© Reuters. Protest against newly adopted farm bills at the Singhu border near New Delhi


By Mayank Bhardwaj and Nupur Anand

MUMBAI / NEU-DELHI (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of Indian farmers stepped up their protests on Sunday against three new agricultural laws that aim to overhaul the procurement and pricing rules for food grains by giving private companies direct access to the vast agricultural sector.

Disgruntled farmers held demonstrations near New Delhi after rejecting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's assurances that the laws would double farmers' incomes.

Six rounds of talks between government officials and union leaders have not resolved the challenge facing the Modi government.

"Hundreds of farmers will start a tractor-cart march into New Delhi to voice our complaints about the new laws," said Kamal Preet Singh Pannu, a leader of Sanyukta Kisan Andolan (United Farmers Protest), one of 30 groups against the laws.

"The government wants to discredit and crush our movement, but we will continue to protest peacefully," said Pannu.

Local authorities tightened security measures, deployed police officers and erected barricades to prevent large numbers of farmers from entering New Delhi. Opposition parties and some senior economists supported the protests.

"I have now studied India's new agricultural bills and found that they are flawed and will harm farmers," wrote Kaushik Basu, former federal government economic adviser, on Twitter.

"Our agricultural regulation needs to be changed, but the new laws will ultimately serve business interests rather than farmers. Hats off to the sensitivity and moral strength of Indian farmers," said Basu.

Farmers are protesting against the three laws that the government says will revise procurement procedures and give them more options to sell their produce.

At an industry event in New Delhi on Saturday, Modi government ministers called on leading industrialists and companies to explain the benefits of the new laws to farmers.

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