India: Farmer protests spread after marchers killed

By Terry Evans
October 18, 2021
Associated News of India

Indian farmers pledged to step up monthslong protests against laws threatening their livelihoods in response to the killing of eight people during clashes between protesters and officials in the Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh state Oct. 3. Above, protest in Karnal, Haryana state, the day before.

For over 10 months farmers have organized protest encampments involving hundreds of thousands on the roads leading into India’s capital, New Delhi. They are demanding the repeal of federal laws that would eliminate government-guaranteed prices farmers got for some staple grains and deepen their exploitation by big capitalist traders. Government efforts to discredit their actions by portraying protesters as rich farmers or as Sikh separatists have failed to demoralize the farmers or end their struggle.

Four farmers were killed when the driver of a car owned by the son of Indian Deputy Home Office Minister Ajay Kumar Mishra ran them over, farm leaders say. Mishra denies this. The unidentified driver of the car and three passengers, all members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, were then beaten to death by protesters, Mishra claims. The state government says they will organize an investigation.

Mishra has claimed protests in Lakhimpur Kheri involve very few people and threatened “it would take just two minutes to make them fall in line.”

Authorities used the killings to ban meetings, suspend the internet and deploy more security forces to the region. They have prevented leaders of the Congress party and other opposition parties from visiting the families of the slain farmers, detaining some of them.

Farmers’ leaders have called for nationwide protests against the killings.