NEW DELHI: Clashes broke out on the outskirts of Delhi on Tuesday as police used water cannon and tear gas to stop thousands of protesting farmers entering the Indian capital, with at least one person reportedly injured.
The farmers, reeling from high fuel prices, were pressing for government help including higher support prices for agricultural goods, free electricity for their farms and waivers on loans ahead of elections due in 2019.
Marching from adjoining northern states, the farmers blocked one of the highways into Delhi and used tractors to try and break through a police barrier, television pictures showed. Some reportedly threw stones at police.
Elections are due in India next year and ahead of previous votes, unions representing farmers and other groups have staged protests in an effort to secure sweeteners in exchange for support at the ballot box.
The farmers demonstrating on Tuesday were mostly from Uttar Pradesh (UP), India’s most populous state with more than 200 million people and its most electorally important.
The protestors reached the Delhi outer limits on foot, in buses and on tractor trailers under the banner of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Indian Farmers Union), a farmers group critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
Modi and his right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) routed all opposition parties in UP in the last elections.
He remains personally popular according to several surveys, but after four years in power support for his party has been eroded by voter concerns about jobs and the spike in fuel prices. –AFP