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Indian court suspends new agricultural laws after mass protests

India’s Supreme Court has suspended a series of controversial new agricultural laws that have forced millions of farmers to stage a month-long protest in Delhi that threatens their livelihoods.

Since November, more than 1.5 million farmers have marched around Delhi and seized roads and highways leading to the capital, setting up 24-hour protest camps and waiting until the new rules are repealed. Was denied transfer to.

Farmers, especially from the states of Punjab and Haryana, argued that the new laws were passed by the government without consultation, brought them to the mercy of big corporations on crop prices and reduced them to poverty and their land. Was at greater risk of losing.

Since coming to power in 2014, the farmers’ protest has proved to be the biggest political challenge facing Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This was the first time since the Awami Tehreek that the government had been forced to the negotiating table and, despite eight rounds of talks, remained stalled.

After two days of deliberation, the Supreme Court on Tuesday decided to suspend the laws. The judges ordered the formation of a four-member committee to consider farmers’ complaints about the law, saying they were “extremely disappointed” by the extent to which negotiations had progressed so far. The judges also expressed concern over the lack of consultation with farmers when passing the law.

“It’s a matter of life and death. We are bound by laws. We are concerned about the lives and property of the people affected by this protest. We are trying our best to resolve this issue. One of our powers is to suspend legislation, ”Chief Justice SA Bobade told the court.

Although many politicians who were angry at the farm rules celebrated the decision, it was ridiculed by peasant leaders, who said “now is not the time for the committee”.

The farmers’ unions reiterated that they would not participate in any committee proceedings by court order and would not end their protest until the new legislation was repealed.

“The members of the committee appointed by the apex court are not credible as they have been writing about how the agricultural laws are pro-farmer. We will continue our protest,” farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajivwal told a press conference. ۔

The farmers said that they still intend to proceed with a protest tractor rally on the way to Delhi on the occasion of India’s Republic Day on January 26. As many as 60 farmers have been killed so far in protests, including camping in make-shift tents in the icy winter temperatures.

Some called the decision a blow to Modi, who can generally rely on the Supreme Court’s backing, which is widely seen as favorable to the ruling government.

However, other observers noted that the court’s decision to suspend farm laws provided the government with a way out of the stalemate by bowing to farmers’ demands.

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