India: Farmers start hunger strike to press Modi on reforms

India: Farmers start hunger strike to press Modi on reforms

Indian farmers on Monday started hunger strike to press the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to repeal three agricultural reform laws, approved by parliament in September without much debate.

Modi's government is urging the farmers to engage in further talks to end a deadlock which has led to thousands camping on the outskirts of New Delhi for more than three weeks.

The protests have blocked roads connecting the capital with neighboring states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, hitting public transport and the supply of fruit and vegetables.

“Over 30 protesters have died in recent weeks, mainly due to the cold as they were sleeping in the open with temperatures falling to 4 degree Celsius,” the farmer leaders said.

The farmers believe that the new laws could pave the way for ending state procurement of crops, while helping big retail buyers.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi has defended the laws saying these would help increase farmers income as it would encourage more private investments in cold-stores, procurement and distribution.