Indian farmers clash with police over controversial new laws

Police in India’s central city of Bhopal on Saturday used batons and water cannons to disperse farmers and their supporters who gathered to protest new agricultural laws. Members of India’s main opposition Congress party also took part in the rally.

In the northern city of Dehradun, there were also scuffles during a march involving farmers on tractors.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government says the laws introduced in September will allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country. But farmers say the bills are designed to benefit private buyers, and will leave them at the mercy of big retailers. They rejected an offer Friday to defer the laws for 18 months, and are planning instead to step up protests.

Hundreds of thousands of farmers from neighbouring states including Haryana, Punjab and western Uttar Pradesh are expected to drive tractors through the capital New Delhi on Jan. 26, the Republic Day national holiday when Modi will join a parade of military forces.

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