(TELESUR) – India witnessed on Thursday the march of thousands of farmers to New Delhi and a national strike to which 250 million workers were called.
The states of Kerala, Bengal, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh were the scene of massive demonstrations by farmers against laws that allow large traders to purchase products directly from farmers.
“Instead of guaranteeing prices and bringing security to the market, the Government has created new laws that benefit large companies involved in agricultural trade. This is not what farmers want,” said Avril Saha, the secretary of the All India Kisan Sangarsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC).
Until now, farmers sold their harvest in wholesale markets regulated by the authorities. With the new laws, however, the government opens the door for contract farming and deregulation of crop prices.
On Thursday, the Indian Association of Bank Workers (AIBEA) also denounced the privatization of public banking and other laws against workers.
The day of social protests was marked by a strong police presence on the borders between states where the authorities placed barriers to prevent the transit of protesters to New Delhi.
The protests, which have been going on for weeks with road and rail transport blockades, were banned in the capital because of the coronavirus pandemic.
India is currently the world’s second most affected country by the pandemic. Up to Thursday morning, its authorities had reported 9.2 million COVID-19 cases.