Thousands of farmers marched to India’s Parliament on Friday demanding higher prices for their produce and a government waiver on their farm loans to alleviate hardships.Story continues below
Waving red, yellow and green flags and banners representing their organizations, the protesters also called for lower prices for diesel fuel and fertilizer and blamed the Hindu nationalist government for hardships caused by years of declining earnings in the agriculture sector.READ MORE: Police struggle to recover body of American killed on isolated Indian islandSeveral farmers carried human skulls they said were of farmers who had killed themselves due to deep debt. Their widows also joined the march.A handful of angry farmers took off their clothes and lay naked on the road before they were persuaded by their leaders to put their clothes back on.
Indian farmers and agricultural laborers march towards the Indian Parliament during a protest rally in New Delhi, India, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018.AP Photo/Altaf QadriThe farmers demanded a special session of Parliament to discuss their demands. Police stopped them at Jantar Mantar, the main area for protests close to Parliament in New Delhi.They carried banners accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of not fulfilling its promise to ensure they earn at least one and a half times the costs they incur in producing their crops. They demanded that the federal government increase the minimum support prices it sets to protect farmers from sudden slumps in market prices. It is the rate at which the government buys farm produce when there are no other buyers in the market.READ MORE: India reports more than 100 Zika virus cases in popular tourist stateDinesh Kumar, 39, a farmer from northern Uttar Pradesh state, said Modi had promised to write off the farmers’ debts. “The entire country’s farmers stood with him because of this promise. Today, we have come here to wake him up. If he listens to what we have to say, then Modi will stay (as prime minister), otherwise the farmers of this country will replace him.”National elections are due to be held early next year.Rain-dependent agriculture employs more than half of India’s 1.3 billion people, but shrinking earnings mean it now accounts for only 15 per cent of India’s economy.WATCH BELOW: Andrew Scheer sees ‘huge potential’ to supply Indian markets with energy