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India's Modi slams months-long farm protests as 'insult' to country

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Activists and supporters of the Socialist Unity Center of India (SUCI) shout slogans as they burn an effigy of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a protest rally supporting the ongoing farmers' protest against the central government's recent agricultural reforms, in Siliguri, on January 31, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has censured recent protests by farmers in New Delhi that followed months-long agitation over the government's new agricultural laws, calling them an "insult" to the country.

Modi's condemnation came after a tractor parade on India's Republic Day on Tuesday turned violent when some protesters clashed with police and broke into a historical complex in the capital, which resulted in the death of one individual and the injury of hundreds of others.

Tens of thousands of Indian farmers have camped on the outskirts of New Delhi for more than two months, protesting new agricultural laws that they say benefit private buyers at the expense of growers.

"The country was saddened by the insult to the Tricolor (Indian flag) on the 26th of January in Delhi," Modi said in a radio address on Sunday.

"The government is committed to modernizing agriculture and is also taking many steps in that direction."

Authorities in India's Farming Union have denied responsibility for the Tuesday violence and said it was caused by a minority of those who had participated in the parade.

The confrontation, which paralyzed the city and left one farmer dead and hundreds of farmers and police officers wounded, prompted thousands of people to rally in the city to reinforce the months-long protest.

Farmer unions demand that Modi’s government repeal the new laws, which they say will affect nearly 70 percent of the 1.3-billion population who are drawing their livelihood from agriculture.

Modi’s government introduced the new agricultural laws in September, stressing that the reforms will open up new opportunities for farmers.

The newly-passed laws could have a significant impact on consumers globally as India is the leading exporter of Basmati rice and the world's largest milk producer, according to the country's Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority.

The south Asian country is also the world's largest producer and exporter of spices.

Modi's government has over the past years made some other provocative decisions that have outraged various people from different ethnicities across the country.

The government in New Delhi stripped the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir of its constitutional autonomous status last year and introduced a slew of laws that locals say are aimed at shifting the Muslim-majority region’s demographics and economically disempowering local residents.

The government lifted a ban on property purchases by people from outside Jammu and Kashmir under the new law, opening the way for Indians to invest and settle in the disputed region like any other part of India.

Kashmir is a bone of contention between arch rivals India and Pakistan.

Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since partition in 1947. Both countries claim all of Kashmir and have fought three wars over the territory.


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