Hundreds of thousands of farmers have joined the rally in the state of Uttar Pradesh on Sunday to pressure Narendra Modi’s government to repeal three new agricultural laws.
Local police said that more than 500,000 farmers attended the protest in the city of Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous and politically significant state.
The new laws which were introduced last September allowed farmers to directly sell their produce to big buyers outside government-regulated wholesale markets.
The government believed this will unshackle farmers and help them get better prices.
Farmers protested that this will leave them with little bargaining power against big private retailers and food processors.
Balbir Singh Rajewal, a farmers’ leader, said that the rally was a warning for Prime Minister Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party.
Key state elections are due to be held in Uttar Pradesh next year.
“Our message is very clear – either repeal the laws or face defeat in the state election,” said Rajewal.
Farming is a vast sector in India’s economy sustaining almost half of the country’s more than 1.3 billion people and accounting for about 15% of the country’s $2.7 trillion economy.
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