India blocked mobile internet services in several areas around New Delhi on Saturday (30), when farmers started a one-day hunger strike after a week of protests and clashes with officials who left one dead and hundreds of people. injured.
Furious about the new agricultural laws that they say benefit large private food buyers at the expense of producers, tens of thousands of farmers have been camped out in protest places outside the capital for more than two months.
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India’s Interior Ministry said on Saturday that internet services at three locations around New Delhi, where protests are taking place, were suspended until 11 pm on Sunday to “maintain public safety”.
Farmers protest against agricultural laws at the Singhu border, near New Delhi, India, January 30, 2021. – Photo: Adnan Abidi / Reuters
Indian authorities often block local Internet services when they believe there will be unrest, although the move is unusual in the capital.
Protester Sandee Sharma said the government turned off the internet to “create panic”, and the other protester Bhavesh Yadav said the move was “killing democracy”.
Agriculture employs about half of India’s 1.3 billion population, and the unrest among some 150 million landowning farmers is one of the biggest challenges for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government since he came to power in 2014 .
Eleven rounds of negotiations between agricultural unions and the government have failed to resolve the impasse. The government has offered to suspend the laws for 18 months, but farmers say they will not end their protests for anything less than total repeal.
Last week, a parade of bulldozers planned for Republic Day anniversary on Tuesday turned violent when some protesters strayed from pre-agreed routes, knocked over barricades and clashed with police, who used tear gas to try contain them.
Sporadic clashes between protesters, police and groups shouting anti-farm slogans have erupted on several occasions since then.
Meanwhile, supporters of the Delhi Police protested carrying posters against the Republic Day violence.
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