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Indian farmers tear-gassed by police on their way to capital; government offers to negotiate.

Indian Farmers Clash with Police in Protest Over Crop Prices

Indian police used tear gas to disperse thousands of protesting farmers in Shambhu, India, as they attempted to resume their march to Delhi after rejecting a government offer on crop prices. The farmers, wearing medical masks, fled from the gas and smoke, running into nearby fields. The police action came as the government made a fresh offer for negotiations, urging the farmers to resolve their grievances through talks.

The government’s new offer to discuss all issues, including guaranteed prices for crops, came after the farmers’ groups rejected the previous proposal for five-year contracts and guaranteed support prices for produce such as corn, cotton, and pulses. The influential bloc of voters from the northern state of Punjab has been demanding higher prices backed by law for their crops.

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Top police and district officials mediated between the leaders and the government after the farmers went into a huddle to discuss the latest offer. The farmers, accompanied by cranes and excavators, began marching from the spot where authorities had initially stopped them by erecting barricades on the border of Punjab state with Haryana, blocking a key highway.

Television images showed some farmers wearing gas masks as they waved colorful flags emblazoned with their union symbols, while loudspeakers urged them to fight for their rights. The Haryana police’s chief ordered the immediate seizure of the heavy equipment brought by the farmers to prevent any destruction of barricades.

Security was also heightened at entry points to New Delhi, with police in riot gear manning barricades topped with barbed wire in some places, causing traffic snarls. Two key entry points north of the city have been shut for days and traffic diverted.

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The farmers’ groups rejected Sunday’s government proposal of minimum support prices, demanding additional food grains to be covered. Similar protests two years ago forced Modi’s government to repeal a set of farm laws after farmers camped for two months at the border of New Delhi.

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