NEW DELHI– Tens of thousands of opposing farmers drove long lines of tractors into India’s capital on Tuesday, breaking through cops barricades, defying tear gas and storming the historical Red Fort as the nation celebrated Republic Day.

They waved farm union and spiritual flags, where prime ministers yearly raise the national flag to mark the nation’s self-reliance.

The deeply symbolic act of taking control of the monument was shown live on hundreds of news channels. People watched in shock at the scope of the farmer protests, now seen as the biggest challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s federal government.

Thousands more farmers progressed foot or rode on horseback while screaming slogans against Modi. At some places, they were showered with flower petals by locals who recorded the protests on their phones.

Cops said one protester died after his tractor reversed, however farmers stated he was shot. Television channels revealed numerous bloodied protesters.

Leaders of the farmers stated more than 10,000 tractors signed up with the demonstration.

For almost 2 months, farmers– much of them Sikhs from the Punjab and Haryana states– have camped at the edge of the capital, blockading highways connecting it with the nation’s north in a disobedience that has rattled the federal government.

They are requiring the withdrawal of new laws, which they say will advertise farming and ravage profits.

” We want to show Modi our strength,” stated Satpal Singh, a farmer who drove into the capital on a tractor together with his family of five. “We will not surrender.”

Riot cops fired tear gas and water cannons at various places to press back the rows of tractors. Authorities blocked roadways in an effort to stop the farmers from reaching the center of the capital. Thousands, nevertheless, handled to reach some crucial landmarks.

” We will do as we wish to. You can not force your laws on the bad,” stated Manjeet Singh, an opposing farmer.

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Authorities shut some city train stations and mobile web services were suspended in parts of the capital.

The federal government firmly insists that the farming reform laws gone by Parliament in September will benefit farmers and boost production through private investment.

Farmers tried to march into New Delhi in November but were stopped by cops. Since then, unfazed by the winter season cold, they have actually hunkered down at the edge of the city and threatened to besiege it, if the farm laws are not rescinded.

The government has provided to change the laws and suspend their implementation for 18 months. But farmers insist they will choose nothing less than a complete repeal.

A farmer breaks windows of a government bus during a tractor rally to protest against farm laws in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday. Danish Siddiqui/ Reuters

The protests overshadowed Republic Day events, which mark the anniversary of the adoption of India’s constitution on Jan. 26,1950 Modi managed a conventional parade, showing the nation’s military power and cultural diversity, albeit scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Given that returning to power for a 2nd term, Modi’s government has actually been rocked by a number of convulsions consisting of a flagging economy, expanding social divisions and a criticized pandemic response.

Farming supports more than half of India’s 1.4 billion people. The economic clout of farmers has diminished over the last few decades. When producing a 3rd of India’s gdp, farmers now represent only 15 percent of the country’s $2.9 trillion economy.


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