Farmers protest in India called off after rain

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Demonstrators also blockaded an international airport A protest over government agriculture policies is calling off its annual gathering, after a week of heavy rain. The government says bad…

Farmers protest in India called off after rain

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Demonstrators also blockaded an international airport

A protest over government agriculture policies is calling off its annual gathering, after a week of heavy rain.

The government says bad weather has forced organisers to move the country’s biggest animal rights march from Delhi to Bihar.

More than 300,000 farmers and activists are to attend the rally in Bihar’s Begusarai district on 22 July.

The strike had left the livelihoods of millions of Indians in the balance.

Since its start on 14 July, protests have shut down dozens of districts across India, paralysing food and transport supplies.

A statement issued by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s office said the ‘sankalp’si’ (athletic festival) in the city would be held on 23 July instead.

‘Fun and food’

The all-male, 30-day protest in Delhi was aimed at pressuring the government to change the way it provides loans and supports farmers – and so give them a more meaningful share of the nation’s GDP.

But this year’s rally will take place in Bihar’s 80th parallel, a major farming state which has seen around a 40% drop in its GDP over the past decade.

“The turnout in Delhi was good, thanks to those who helped us put on a massive programme. We are confident of getting more than 100,000 people in Begusarai district,” said convenor of the All India Kisan Sabha, Sunil Abraham.

“People attended the rally in their thousands to see the colourful, fun and food. They got concerned about the farmers’ sufferings and farmers have told us their own stories,” he added.

Bhau Lal has been a farmer for more than 50 years, and is one of the two-thirds of India’s farmers who are dependent on the state for their livelihood.

Since selling his crop in Delhi, he has only found another job as a tractor driver for $90 (£71) a month.

“You don’t ever see a happy farmer looking around these days. And we need to change that,” said Mr Lal, 48.

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