The Indian Republic Day parade is out of date

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This content was published on January 26, 2021 - 16:26 (Keystone-SDA)

During a large demonstration, tens of thousands of farmers broke barricades on Indian Republic Day to protest against laws to deregulate agriculture in the capital New Delhi.

They marched into the metropolis with flags on Tuesday, drove their tractors in and stormed the 17th century Red Fort Palace, as TV images showed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi hoists the Indian flag on the palace on Independence Day.

The police used batons and tear gas. Farmers and police officers also clashed near the Delhi police headquarters, where police officers appeared to be outnumbered at times. Farmers on two tractors chased police officers. At least one demonstrator died - according to police in a tractor accident, according to farmers from a gunshot. Several demonstrators and police officers were injured. In parts of Delhi, the Internet has been temporarily interrupted to reduce further violence, local media reported.

The police had actually only approved a demonstration for Tuesday afternoon, but some protesters had already started that morning. Republic Day, the anniversary of the entry into force of the democratic constitution in 1950, is an important holiday that is celebrated with parades. The military power of the gigantic country as well as its cultural heritage are celebrated.

Tens of thousands of farmers have been camping around the capital since November, demanding that controversial market liberalization laws be repealed. In India, grain was previously traded in state-organized wholesale markets at guaranteed minimum prices. After the reform, farmers should be able to sell their goods directly to private companies without middlemen. The government argues that free market producers could make higher profits and that the reform will modernize agriculture. The farmers, on the other hand, fear a drop in prices because they would be in a bad position in negotiations with the agricultural corporations.

Agriculture contributes around 15 percent to Indian economic output and is the livelihood for around 60 percent of the country's 1.3 billion inhabitants. Many farmers in India have money problems. Talks between farmers and government representatives had not yet led to an agreement.

According to farmers' representatives, dozens of farmers died during the protests. For example, they died in traffic accidents or froze to death due to the cold at night.

On Tuesday evening (local time), many farmers returned to the outskirts of the capital. Some farmers told the local broadcaster NDTV that their job was done and that they had conveyed their message to the government.