Indian farmers resume protests against Modi’s agriculture reforms

Farmers raise slogans as they make their way to Delhi to join farmers who are continuing their protest against the agricultural laws, in Beas, India. (AFP)
1 / 5
Farmers raise slogans as they make their way to Delhi to join farmers who are continuing their protest against the agricultural laws, in Beas, India. (AFP)
Indian farmers resume protests against Modi’s agriculture reforms
2 / 5
People arrive to attend a Maha Panchayat or grand village council meeting as part of a farmers' protest against farm laws in Muzaffarnagar in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, September 5, 2021. (Reuters)
Indian farmers resume protests against Modi’s agriculture reforms
3 / 5
People attend a Maha Panchayat or grand village council meeting as part of a farmers' protest against farm laws in Muzaffarnagar in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, September 5, 2021. (Reuters)
Indian farmers resume protests against Modi’s agriculture reforms
4 / 5
A farmer sits on a tractor as he attends a Maha Panchayat or grand village council meeting as part of a protest against farm laws in Muzaffarnagar in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, September 5, 2021. (Reuters)
Indian farmers resume protests against Modi’s agriculture reforms
5 / 5
People arrive to attend a Maha Panchayat or grand village council meeting as part of a farmers' protest against farm laws in Muzaffarnagar in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, September 5, 2021. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 06 September 2021

Indian farmers resume protests against Modi’s agriculture reforms

Farmers raise slogans as they make their way to Delhi to join farmers who are continuing their protest against the agricultural laws, in Beas, India. (AFP)
  • More than 500,000 farmers attended the rally in the city of Muzaffarnagar, according to local police
  • Over the past 8 months, tens of thousands of farmers have camped on highways to New Delhi to oppose the laws

NEW DELHI: More than 250,000 farmers rallied in Muzaffarnagar in India’s northern Uttar Pradesh state on Sunday in renewed protests against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agricultural reforms.
Farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, where most of the country’s agriculture is concentrated and yields are high, have been protesting since September 2020, holding firm on their demand that three farm laws passed last year to open agricultural trade to private companies be scrapped.
While their demonstrations have been less intense in the past few months due to India’s deadly second wave of the coronavirus in March-May, and later the cropping season, Sunday’s rally is seen as a resumption of mass agitation, coming as local elections in Uttar Pradesh — India’s most populous state — are six months away.
“The rally today is an attempt to expand the farmers’ protest and take to different parts of Uttar Pradesh, which is going to the elections soon,” Ashutosh Mishra, leader of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee — an umbrella body of farmer organizations — told Arab News. “The Uttar Pradesh state is going to the polls, and we know that the BJP government works only out of election fear and we want to teach them a lesson,” he said.
“Farmers will spread out to all villages of the state and tell people to vote out the BJP if they don’t act against the three farm laws.” Uttar Pradesh is a crucial state for Indian politics, and if the BJP loses its local polls it may not succeed in the next general election.
Agriculture employs more than 200 million Indians and is the key employer of the country’s workforce.
“The BJP is arrogant and to save its corporate friends it is willing to sacrifice the farming community where 60 percent of Indians find employment,” said farmer leader Sunil Pradhan of the Bhartiya Kisan Union.
“We are left with no option but to launch an open front against the ruling party for its anti-farmer and pro-corporate policies.”
The ruling party sees the protest as “politically motivated.”
“There are people who are doing politics in the name of farmers and it is they who have opened fronts against the BJP,” BJP Uttar Pradesh spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi told Arab News.

“It is a politically motivated agitation and it’s not going to have any impact on people.”

India’s Bharatiya Janata Party government has held 10 rounds of talks with farmers since the beginning of the protests and offered to postpone the implementation of the new laws for 15 months. Protesters have rejected the offer, demanding that the laws be revoked altogether.

Tripathi said that the government was still willing to return to the negotiating table.

“The government is still open to talks,” he said. “The farmer leaders are spreading anarchy through their stubborn approach and if they want to talk with the government they should come out with an open mind and the government will engage with them.”

The resumption of mass farmer rallies may, however, prove expensive for the BJP.

“In democracy, you show your strength when you gather in large numbers. Farmers are showing their strength,” political analyst Surya Pratap Singh, based in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, told Arab News.

“What you are seeing in the gathering today is a reflection of anti-establishment feelings among the people,” he said. “The rally will affect the fortune of the BJP government. It might uproot the government in the next elections.”


Three injured after explosion in Munich – police

Three injured after explosion in Munich – police
Updated 8 sec ago

Three injured after explosion in Munich – police

Three injured after explosion in Munich – police
  • Rail travel to and from the main train station has been suspended, according to rail operator Deutsche Bahn
BERLIN: An old aircraft bomb exploded at a bridge near Munich’s busy main train station on Wednesday, injuring three people, police said on Twitter.
The explosion happened during construction work, police said.
Due to the explosion, rail travel to and from the main train station has been suspended, according to rail operator Deutsche Bahn.

Pfizer vaccines available for EU children in two weeks

Pfizer vaccines available for EU children in two weeks
Updated 48 min 53 sec ago

Pfizer vaccines available for EU children in two weeks

Pfizer vaccines available for EU children in two weeks
  • BioNTech/Pfizer, will have jabs available for children in the bloc in two weeks’ time

BRUSSELS: The EU’s main Covid vaccine provider, BioNTech/Pfizer, will have jabs available for children in the bloc in two weeks’ time, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday.
She said she had spoken with the German-US joint venture about the issue the day before, and they said “they are able to accelerate — in other words children’s vaccines will be available as of December 13.”


Portugal tightens restrictions despite coronavirus vaccine success

Portugal tightens restrictions despite coronavirus vaccine success
Updated 01 December 2021

Portugal tightens restrictions despite coronavirus vaccine success

Portugal tightens restrictions despite coronavirus vaccine success
  • Under the new rules, most arriving passengers must show negative test results at Portugal’s airports, seaports and land borders
  • Authorities in Portugal have confirmed an outbreak of the new coronavirus variant, omicron, among members of a professional soccer club and a medical worker

LISBON: Portugal tightened passenger entry requirements and mandated masks indoors to curb an upward trend in coronavirus infections as the country with one of the strongest vaccination records in Europe entered a “state of calamity” Wednesday.
The crisis declaration, Portugal’s second this year, is one step below a state of emergency and gives the government the legal authority to impose stricter measures without parliamentary approval.
Masks now are required in enclosed public spaces, and individuals must show proof of vaccination, having recovered from COVID-19 or a negative virus tests to enter restaurants, cinemas, gyms and hotels. Nightclubs, hospitals, nursing homes and sports venues also must require negative virus tests from visitors and patrons, including vaccinated ones.
“With the test, we feel more comfortable. We don’t leave the club thinking, ‘Do I have COVID or not?’” Sara Lopes, a 21-year-old shop worker, said as she lined up at a central Lisbon nightclub as the new requirements took effect at midnight.
“It’s a bit of a hassle to have to make appointment after appointment at the pharmacy, but it’s fine,” Lopes said.
Under the new rules, most arriving passengers must show negative test results at Portugal’s airports, seaports and land borders.
Experts believe that Portugal’s vaccination rate, which at 87 percent of over 10 million residents is one of the highest globally, has shielded the country from the infection spikes recently experienced by some other European countries.
Still, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has been rising since September. Portuguese authorities on Tuesday recorded 2,907 new cases and 15 deaths.
Authorities in Portugal have confirmed an outbreak of the new coronavirus variant, omicron, among members of a professional soccer club and a medical worker who had contact with them.


Countries launch WHO pandemic accord talks

Countries launch WHO pandemic accord talks
Updated 01 December 2021

Countries launch WHO pandemic accord talks

Countries launch WHO pandemic accord talks
  • A new agreement on pandemic preparedness and response will come into force in 2024

GENEVA: World Health Organization member states agreed Wednesday to start work on building a new international accord setting out how to handle the next global pandemic.
Countries adopted a resolution at a special meeting in Geneva, launching the process that should result in a new agreement on pandemic preparedness and response coming into force in 2024.


China calls on citizens to leave eastern Congo after attacks

China calls on citizens to leave eastern Congo after attacks
Updated 01 December 2021

China calls on citizens to leave eastern Congo after attacks

China calls on citizens to leave eastern Congo after attacks
  • A number of Chinese citizens had been attacked and kidnapped over the past month in the provinces of South Kivu, North Kivu and Ituri

BEIJING: China on Wednesday urged its citizens to leave three provinces in eastern Congo as violence intensifies in the mineral-rich region.
A posting from the Chinese Embassy in Kinshasa on the WeChat online messaging said a number of Chinese citizens had been attacked and kidnapped over the past month in the provinces of South Kivu, North Kivu and Ituri, where several anti-government rebel groups have a presence.
It said Chinese residing in the three provinces should provide their personal details by Dec. 10 and make plans to leave for safer parts of Congo. Those in the districts of Bunia, Djugu, Beni, Rutshuru, Fizi, Uvira and Mwenga should leave immediately, it said, adding that any who do not do so “will have to bear the consequences themselves.”
“We ask that all Chinese citizens and Chinese-invested businesses in Congo please pay close attention to local conditions, increase their safety awareness and emergency preparedness, and avoid unnecessary outside travel,” the embassy said.
No details of the incidents were given, although the embassy last month reported five Chinese citizens were abducted from a mining operation in South Kivu, which borders Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.
It warned a the time that the security situation in the area was “extremely complex and grim” and that there was little possibility of sending help in the event of an attack or kidnapping.
No details were given about those kidnapped, who they worked for or who was suspected of taking them.
Several armed groups including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by its French acronym FDLR, the Mai-Mai and the M23 regularly vie for control of eastern Congo’s natural resources.
Despite the danger, Chinese businesses have moved into Congo and other unstable African states in a quest for cobalt and other rare minerals and resources. Chinese workers have also been subject to kidnappings and attacks in Pakistan and other countries with active insurgencies.
Security was a key topic at a meeting Monday in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, on Monday, between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Congolese counterpart Christophe Lutundula, according to China’s Xinhua News Agency.
China’s government and ruling Communist Party “attach great importance to the safety and security of Chinese enterprises and Chinese nationals overseas and the Chinese side has been extremely concerned with the recent serious crimes of kidnappings and killings of its citizens in the DRC,” Wang said, using the acronym for the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Wang urged Congo to secure the release of those kidnapped and create a “safe, secure and stable environment for bilateral cooperation.”
Xinhua quoted Lutundula as saying Congo would take “forceful measures” to investigate the crimes, free the hostages, punish the culprits severely and safeguard national security and restore stability to the country’s east.
Earlier this week, Uganda said it launched joint air and artillery strikes with Congolese forces against camps of the extremist Allied Democratic Forces rebel group in eastern Congo.
The ADF was established in the early 1990s in Uganda and later driven out by the Ugandan military into eastern Congo, where many rebel groups are able to operate because the central government has limited control there.
At least four civilians were killed less than two weeks ago in Uganda’s capital when suicide bombers detonated their explosives at two locations.
The Daesh group claimed responsibility, saying the attacks were carried out by Ugandans. Ugandan authorities blamed the ADF, which has been allied with the Daesh group since 2019.