Indian farmers to step up protests after 8 killed in clashes

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Law changes make them vulnerable to competition from big business

New Delhi

Farmers in India vowed on Monday to intensify their months-long protest against laws aimed at liberalising agriculture as tension flared a day after eight people were killed in clashes between growers and ruling party supporters.

Four of the eight were killed when a car linked to a senior ruling party official crashed into protesters in Uttar Pradesh state, protest leaders said.

Police said they were investigating the crash and had registered a case against 13 people including a son of a minister of state in the interior ministry, Ajay Kumar Mishra.

An alliance of protest groups called in a petition to President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday for a court-supervised investigation of the violence.

“We’ll intensify our agitation in Uttar Pradesh and other parts of the country to highlight the plight of innocent farmers,” Dharmendra Malik, a senior leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, told Reuters

. “The government might try to discredit the 10-month-long movement, but we will remain peaceful in our struggle,” Malik said.

The legislation the farmers object to, introduced in September last year, deregulates the sector, allowing farmers to sell produce to buyers beyond government-regulated wholesale markets, where growers are assured of a minimum price.

Small farmers say the changes make them vulnerable to competition from big business, and that they could eventually lose price supports for staples such as wheat and rice. .– Reuters

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