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Modi says reforms will make India’s farmers ‘prosperous’ as protests continue

Click to play video: 'Prayers and not protests in support of farmers in India' Prayers and not protests in support of farmers in India
Dozens of people gathered outside the Indian Consulate in Downtown Vancouver to pray and show their support for Indian farmers protesting new agricultural laws. Amar Sohal was among those speaking out against the Indian Government and calling for a peaceful resolution. – Dec 11, 2020

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured farmers on Saturday that reforms in the agrarian sector were aimed at helping them as thousands of farmers continued protests against three new laws to overhaul procurement and sale of produce.

“Reforms will help draw investment in agriculture and benefit farmers, ” he said at the annual meeting of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi.

Read more: Here’s why farmers in India are protesting and why Canadians are concerned

“The aim of all the government reforms is to make farmers prosperous,” he said adding that private sector must help improve the country’s agriculture sector.

But protesting farmers in northern states fear the new legislations will eventually dismantle India’s regulated markets and stop the government from buying wheat and rice at guaranteed prices, leaving them at the mercy of private buyers.

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Click to play video: 'Growing support in B.C. for farmers in India' Growing support in B.C. for farmers in India
Growing support in B.C. for farmers in India – Dec 10, 2020

At least 30 farmer unions are actively protesting against the new laws. Talks between leaders of the farmers’ unions and government officials have failed to break the deadlock with the farmers demanding the complete rollback of the reforms.

Despite Modi’s latest assurances, thousands of farmers are trying to enter New Delhi from neighbouring states to press for the repeal of the new legislation.

Read more: ‘If we don’t come back, remember we fought:’ India’s farmers remain resolute after failed talks

“We plan to protest peacefully,” said Balbir Singh Rajewal, president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Indian Farmer Union).

“The government must accept our demands if they want us to stop our protest,” Rajewal said.

(Writing by Rupam Jain, Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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