Indian government invites protesting farmers for talks

Television images showed some of them moving to the capital while thousands still remained at the outskirts of the city. (AFP)
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Updated 28 November 2020

Indian government invites protesting farmers for talks

  • Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar invited the farmers for talks

NEW DELHI: India’s government invited leaders of farmers for talks as thousands of them pressed on with a protest in and around the capital on Saturday against agricultural legislation they said could be exploited by the private sector to buy their crops at cheap prices.
After a day of clashes with police who used tear gas, water cannons and baton charges to push them back, the farmers were allowed to enter New Delhi late Friday.
Television images showed some of them moving to the capital while thousands still remained at the outskirts of the city.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar invited them for talks.
“We have called all the farmers’ organizations on December 3 and we have talked before and are still ready for talks,” Tomar said.
There was no immediate response from the farmers’ leaders. The protesters said they would not return to their homes until their demands were met.
For the last two months, farmer unions have rejected the laws, which were passed in September, and have camped out on highways in Punjab and Haryana states. They say the measure could cause the government to stop buying grain at guaranteed prices and result in their exploitation by corporations that would buy their crops cheaply.
The government says the laws are needed to reform agriculture by giving farmers the freedom to market their produce and boosting production through private investment.
“We are fighting for our rights. We won’t rest until we reach the capital and force the government to abolish these black laws,” said Majhinder Singh Dhaliwal, a farmer leader.
Opposition parties and some Modi allies have called the laws anti-farmer and pro-corporation.
Farmers have long been seen as the heart and soul of India, where agriculture supports more than half of the country’s 1.3 billion people. But farmers have also seen their economic clout diminish over the last three decades. Once accounting for a third of India’s gross domestic product, they now produce only 15% of the country’s $2.9 trillion economy.
Farmers often complain of being ignored and hold frequent protests to demand better crop prices, more loan waivers and irrigation systems to guarantee water during dry spells.


150 migrants storm border with Spain’s Melilla enclave

Updated 19 January 2021

150 migrants storm border with Spain’s Melilla enclave

  • 90 migrants managing to cross from Morocco into Melilla at a point where the border fence crosses the Nano river
  • Melilla and Ceuta, another Spanish territory in North Africa, have the European Union’s only land borders with Africa

MADRID: Around 150 migrants stormed the border fence separating the Spanish enclave Melilla from Morocco early on Tuesday with nearly 90 managing to cross, officials said.
The incident took place just before dawn where the fence crosses the Nano river, a spokesman for the Spanish government’s local delegation said, indicating “87 of them” got across despite efforts to stop them by the Moroccan and Spanish security forces.
It was the biggest mass attempt to cross the border fence since August 20 when some 300 people stormed the fence, although only around 30 managed to get across and one died during the attempt.
During Tuesday’s incident, nine migrants were hurt while trying to get into the tiny Spanish territory, while the rest were being registered at the migrant reception center, he said.
Interior ministry figures show that in the first two weeks of the year, 60 migrants managed to illegally cross the fence into Melilla while another 70 managed to cross into Ceuta, Spain’s other North African enclave.
Melilla and Ceuta, another Spanish territory in North Africa, have the European Union’s only land borders with Africa.
They are favored entry points for African migrants seeking a better life in Europe, who get there by either climbing over the border fence or by swimming along the coast.
The border crossings between Morocco and both enclaves have been closed since the start of the pandemic last March.