Police in New Delhi fired tear gas at protesting farmers after they broke through barricades on Tuesday. The on-going protests upped the ante during the country’s national Republic Day military parade in the capital. The scaled-down parade, which celebrates the adoption of the Indian constitution in 1950, was overshadowed by the vast tractor rally.
Farmers have been protesting a new law which they say benefits large, private land grabbers over small local producers. Tens of thousands of angry protesters entered the outskirts of the city in a convoy of tractors earlier in the day. Around half of India’s 1.3 billion population works in agriculture and the on-going protests being carried out by some 150 landowning farmers represent one the biggest challenges to Modi’s government to date. More than half of India’s farmers are in debt and more than 20,000 committed suicide in 2018 and 2019, according to official statistics. Despite their weakening economic position — agriculture now makes up only 15% of the national economy — they represent a large voting bloc. A series of talks have fallen flat as the farmers have consistently rejected any offer other than a complete repeal of the new law.
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