Wednesday, January 20, 2021
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Indian farmers block roads & railways in protest over controversial grain trade bills (PHOTOS)

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Punjab’s chief minister, Amarinder Singh, pledged on Thursday to do “what it takes to save my farmers and my state from these dangerous new laws, whose implementation will cripple the farming sector and also destroy Punjab’s lifeline of agriculture.”

In an op-ed published in the Indian Express, Singh claimed that the bills would leave the “helpless” small farmers at the mercy of “the big sharks” of the market.

© Adnan Abidi / Reuters

The government, meanwhile, insists that the legislation is designed to free the farmers from inter-state barriers, antiquated bureaucracy, and monopolies.

Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that, despite the fears, the government-run procurement of crops will continue. The bill will create “an ecosystem where farmers and traders enjoy the freedom of choice of sale and purchase of farming produce,” he wrote in an op-ed earlier this week. 

On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the passing of the bills as a “watershed moment in the history of Indian agriculture.” Addressing a virtual meeting of ruling BJP party leaders on Friday, Modi blasted the opposition for “misleading” farmers.

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