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Thousands of Indian farmers clashed with police in the country’s capital New Delhi this week, after protests to demand guaranteed minimum prices for their crops, debt relief and policy reforms from the government spiraled out of control, the New York Times reported.

Earlier this week, farmers from various states marched to New Delhi with their tractors and trucks, prompting authorities to halt the convoys through concrete barricades and stacking shipping containers.

Officials also blocked the social media accounts of some protest leaders and used drones to drop tear gas on protesters.

The demonstrations are a continuation of the mass protests by farmers that gripped the capital in 2020 and 2021. At the time, tens of thousands of farmers launched months-long protests against three bills that would have overhauled the country’s agricultural sector.

At least 600 people died during the violent crackdowns by authorities, but unrest prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to abandon the bills, according to Al Jazeera.

Despite the earlier victory, many farmer unions felt that unresolved issues remained, especially regarding the legal guarantee of minimum support prices (MSP) for staple crops.

The MSP remains a contentious issue in India: Economists have criticized it for fueling food price inflation and distorting agricultural markets.

However, farmers countered that it provides vital stability in an uncertain industry, protecting livelihoods against fluctuating weather patterns and global market prices. Relatively affluent farmers from the Punjab state, who stand to lose the most if MSP is abolished, are at the forefront of these protests.

Protesting farmers are also demanding debt relief and restraints on the privatization of the power industry.

Since the demonstrations coincide with the upcoming election season, analysts said that farmers are more likely to win some concessions from the Modi administration.

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