Indian farmers to torch laws on bonfires in show of defiance

Narinder NANU / AFP

Indian farmers were due to burn copies of the government's new agricultural laws on Wednesday as they press on with their protest against the reforms despite the intervention of the Supreme Court, which said their grievances should be heard.

Tens of thousands of farmers have been camped on the outskirts of the capital, New Delhi, for almost two months, protesting against what they say are laws designed to benefit large private buyers at the expense of growers.

The government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi denies this, saying the legislation is required to reform an agricultural sector beset by wastage.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered a temporary suspension of the laws while a four-member committee looks into the protesters' grievances.

But farm leaders have refused to cooperate with the committee and will on Wednesday torch copies of the legislation on bonfires at their protest sites to drive home their opposition and mark the Lohri mid-winter festival.

The farmers have said they will intensify their protests, including around Republic Day celebrations in the capital later this month.

"We expect to mobilise up to two million farmers across the country on January 26," Kulwant Singh Sandhu, general secretary of Jamhuri Kisan Sabha, one of the main farm unions, told Reuters.

Farmers have consistently called for the total repeal of the laws, though the government says there is "no question" of this happening.

Eight rounds of talks have failed to break the deadlock. The two sides are next due to meet on Friday.

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