BHAINSWAL, (INDIA) – In a sign of a growing challenge to the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, thousands of farmers rallied on Friday in Uttar Pradesh state to show their support for the protests.
While hundreds of police, many armed and wearing riot gear, stood by, there was no trouble.
“Everybody here is going to join the movement,” said Jitendra Singh, 55, a sugarcane farmer at the rally in Bhainswal village.
While Modi’s party commands a comfortable majority in parliament, the support for the protests from Uttar Pradesh’s politically influential sugarcane farmers will be a worry.
The farmers say the laws mean the end of long-standing support prices for their crops and will leave them vulnerable to the whims of big buyers. They are demanding that the laws be scrapped.
The government says reform of the inefficient agriculture sector will open up new opportunities for farmers and while it has offered some concessions, it has ruled out withdrawing the laws. To their annoyance the protests have drawn increasing international scrutiny, with celebrities including pop star Rihanna and environment campaigner Greta Thunberg announcing their support for the farmers.