India shutdown as farmers protest against law
A country-wide strike by farmers in India has begun amid a standoff with the government over new farm laws.
At least 15 opposition parties have backed the call for the strike. Tens of thousands of farmers have laid siege to capital Delhi for the last 12 days, choking almost all the entry points. There is also heavy police deployment along border checkpoints.
The governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said the reforms, which allow private players a greater role in the farming sector, will not hurt farmers’ incomes.
But farmers are unconvinced. In recent weeks, thousands of them marched upon Delhi, in a convoy of tractors and on foot. They were met at the border by barricades and clashes broke out when police and paramilitary troops tried to stop them from entering the capital.
Most of the protesting farmers are from the northern states of Punjab and Haryana, and belong to the country’s richest agricultural communities.
Their campaign has found resonance on social media, and among the influential Sikh community in Punjab and overseas.
Tuesday’s strike follows three rounds of inconclusive talks between the two sides over laws that farmers say are against their interests.
Another round of talks is due on Wednesday.