Clashes broke out on Friday between protesting Indian farmers and a group of men shouting anti-farmer and pro-police slogans, and authorities used tear gas and batons to break up the fight at one of several protest sites near the capital New Delhi.
Farmers’ leaders accused local police and politicians of instigating skirmishes at the northern site to turn sentiment against them after thousands of farmers marched overnight to reinforce colleagues camping out on the outskirts of New Delhi.
The protesting farmers want the government to withdraw three new farm laws that they say will hurt their livelihoods for the benefit of large private produce buyers, but President Ram Nath Kovind said in a parliamentary address that the new laws protect farmers’ rights.
In a stand-off between riot police and the farmers, authorities on Thursday night tried to clear a protest site in the city’s east but most farmers refused to move and large numbers joined them. Their leaders said any retreat would constitute surrender.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government introduced the new agricultural laws in September, triggering a wave of protests and sit-ins on some of the major approaches to New Delhi.
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