Indian farmers defiant against reform as Modi tries to calm anger

Indian farmers defiant against reform as Modi tries to calm anger
A farmer shouts slogans as police use water canon to disperse farmers at a roadblock as they try to march to New Delhi to protest against the central government’s recent agricultural reforms at the Delhi-Haryana border in Kundli on November 28, 2020. (File/AFP)
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Updated 29 November 2020

Indian farmers defiant against reform as Modi tries to calm anger

Indian farmers defiant against reform as Modi tries to calm anger
  • The government on Saturday invited farmers’ union leaders for talks on new legislation to deregulate agriculture
  • Small growers worry they will be left vulnerable to big business

NEW DELHI: Thousands of Indian farmers, angry over reform of the agriculture sector, held a third day of protests on the outskirts of the capital on Sunday, blocking roads into the city and defying a government appeal to move to a designated site.
The government on Saturday invited farmers’ union leaders for talks on new legislation to deregulate agriculture but that has not calmed farmers’ anger over what many see “anti-farm laws,” and their action appeared to be spreading.
“We will stay put here today,” said Rakesh Tikait, spokesman of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, one of more than 30 protesting unions, as he and his members blocked a road on the eastern approaches to Delhi.
The farmers object to legislation introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in September that would let farmers sell their produce anywhere, including to big corporate buyers like Walmart, not just at government-regulated wholesale markets where growers are assured of a minimum price.
Small growers worry they will be left vulnerable to big business and could eventually lose price support for staples such as wheat and rice.
Modi sought to allay farmers’ concerns on Sunday.
“From these reforms, farmers will get new rights and opportunities,” he said in his monthly radio address.
But one farm union leader said many protesters were demanding that the government withdraw the laws.
“The farmers’ leaders will meet later on Sunday to decide their response to the government,” he said, referring to the government’s call for talks.
The protests began with farmers from the northern states of Haryana and Punjab on the outskirts of New Delhi on Friday, when police fired tear gas and water cannon in a bid to disperse them.
But instead farmers from the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh joined in over the weekend, blocking roads to the east of the capital.
Media reported protests by farmers in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala on Saturday.
Prices of fresh produce prices at wholesale markets in the city began to tick up and commuters have faced travel disruption. (Reporting by Manoj Kumar; Editing by Euan Rocha, Robert Birsel)


Central African Republic war crimes suspect Mahamat Said surrenders to ICC

Central African Republic war crimes suspect Mahamat Said surrenders to ICC
Updated 5 min 1 sec ago

Central African Republic war crimes suspect Mahamat Said surrenders to ICC

Central African Republic war crimes suspect Mahamat Said surrenders to ICC
  • Said was the commander of the “Seleka” faction, which seized power in March 2013
  • Their brutal rule gave rise to the opposing “anti-balaka” militias, whose former leaders also face charges at the ICC
(Updates with reaction from prosecutor, details, background)
THE HAGUE: The International Criminal Court on Sunday said it had taken into custody a former Central African Republic commander of the “Seleka” faction suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In a statement the court said Mahamat Said Abdel Kain had surrendered to the court on Sunday and had been arrested under a warrant issued under seal on Jan. 7 2019, relating to alleged crimes from 2013. A date for his initial appearance in The Hague has not yet been set.
The arrest comes against the backdrop of a state of emergency in the Central African Republic, with fighting between the country’s army, backed by UN, Russian and Rwandan troops, and rebels seeking to overturn a Dec. 27 vote in which President Faustin-Archange Touadera was declared the winner.
A judge for the court said there was reasonable grounds to believe that Said, 50, was responsible for crimes including torture, persecutions, enforced disappearances and other inhumane acts.
The Central African Republic has been mired in violence since a coalition of mostly northern and predominantly Muslim rebels known as Seleka, or “alliance” in the Sango language, seized power in March 2013. Their brutal rule gave rise to the opposing “anti-balaka” Christian militias, several of whose former leaders also face charges at the ICC.
“I welcome today’s transfer of the suspect, Mr.Mahamat Saïd Abdel Kani ... to face justice for his alleged crimes as charged before the ICC,” said prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in a statement.
“As I have previously stated, my office will relentlessly pursue justice for the victims of atrocities in the Central African Republic ... irrespective of which side of the conflict they may be on.”