India shut down mobile internet services in several areas around Delhi on Saturday as protesting farmers went on a one-day hunger strike after a week-long clash with authorities that left one dead and hundreds injured. ۔
Angered by the new agricultural laws, which he says have benefited large private buyers at the expense of producers, tens of thousands of farmers have been camping on the outskirts of the capital for more than two months.
Last Tuesday, a planned tractor parade on the occasion of the Republic Day turned violent when some protesters deviated from the agreed routes, broke down barricades and clashed with police, who used tear gas against them.
On several occasions since then, there have been sporadic clashes between protesters, police and groups chanting anti-farmer slogans.
The Indian Home Ministry on Saturday suspended internet services at three locations on the outskirts of Delhi until 11 a.m. (1730 GMT) on Sunday to maintain public safety.
Indian authorities often block internet services when they believe there will be unrest, although the move is unusual in the capital.
Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Saturday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck. Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Saturday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck.
Farm leaders said Saturday’s hunger strike, on the occasion of the anniversary of India’s independence leader, Mahatma Gandhi, would show Indians that the protesters were extremely peaceful.
“The farmers’ movement was and will be peaceful,” said Darshan Pal, leader of the Joint Farmers’ Front group of protesting farmers’ unions.
“The events of January 30 will be organized to spread the values of truth and non-violence.”
Agriculture employs half of India’s 1.3 billion people, and since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government came to power in 2014, there has been unrest among an estimated 150 million landowners.
Eleven rounds of talks between the farm unions and the government have failed to break the deadlock. The government has offered to suspend the laws for 18 months, but farmers say they will not end their protests for less than a year.
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