India’s months-long protests against the government’s agricultural reforms have entered a new phase as the farmers began a one-day hunger strike to spread the values of truth and peace, after a week of clashes with authorities that left one dead and hundreds injured.
Farm leaders said on Saturday that the hunger strike would show Indians that the protesters were overwhelmingly peaceful.
“The farmers’ movement was peaceful and will be peaceful,” said Darshan Pal, a leader of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha group of farm unions organizing the protests.
The government on Saturday blocked mobile internet services in several areas surrounding the capital New Delhi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government introduced a series of agricultural laws in September, prompting anger among farmers, who say the new laws will hurt their livelihoods.
Clashes between protesters, police and groups of anti-farmers have broken out on multiple occasions since then.
Farmer unions say the new laws will affect nearly 70 percent of the 1.3-billion population who are drawing their livelihood from agriculture.
They have said that they would not budge “until the laws are repealed.”
The government, however, insisted that it will not bow to the protesters’ demands.
On Friday, clashes erupted between protesters and a group of people, who came out in support of police crackdown against farmers.
The clashes came as thousands of protesters took to the streets in response to a police attack against farmers who have camped out with tens of thousands of tractors in New Delhi since November.