Indian farmers protesting agrarian reforms broke barricades and clashed with police in the capital on Tuesday, who fired tear gas to hold them back shortly after a convoy of tractors drove through the outskirts

Breeders angry about laws they say will help large private buyers at the expense of producers have been camping outside of New Delhi for nearly two months, facing Prime Minister Narendra Modi since he came to power in 2014 of the greatest challenges

“Modi will hear us now, he will have to hear us now,” said Sukhdev Singh, 55, a farmer from the northern bread basket state of Punjab as he marched past the barricades

He was one of hundreds of demonstrators, some on horseback, who had broken off the main tractor protest route to drive into central New Delhi, where an annual Republic Day military parade takes place

They commanded cranes and used ropes to tear down roadblocks for miles off the police-cleared routes and forced police in riot gear to back off and let them pass, Reuters witnesses said

In response to reports of the clash, protest organizer Samyukt Kisan Morcha said only one of his parades had deviated from predetermined routes

“Except for one group is our message that all parades on the pre-determined routes will take place together with the police, “said the union group in a statement

In the past tens of thousands of bearded and tumultuous farmers, many of whom were bundled up against the winter cold, began the day driving a convoy of tractors adorned with the Indian tricolor and their union flags through the outskirts

Agriculture employs roughly half of India’s 13 billion population and unrest among an estimated 150 million landowners worries the government

Nine rounds of talks with farmers’ unions did not end the protests, as farmers rejected the government’s offer to postpone the laws by 18 months and instead pushed for repeal

“The farm organizations are very influential,” said Ambar Kumar Ghosh, an analyst at the Observer Research Foundation’s New Delhi Think Tank

“You have the resources to mobilize support and to continue the protest for a long time. You also managed very successfully to keep the protest really focused”

The protests threaten to overshadow the annual military parade on the occasion of the adoption of the Indian Constitution in 1950

“Every other day instead of the 26th January, but they have now announced it, “Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told the media on Monday

“The peaceful and accident-free implementation of the rally would be important for both the farmers and the police”

(Reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal and Danish Siddiqui in Singhu, Anushree Fadnavis in Tikri and Mayank Bhardwaj and Alasdair Pal in New Delhi; writing by Alasdair Pal; editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Get a recap of the most important and fascinating national stories in your inbox every weekday

Get a recap of the most important and fascinating national stories in your inbox every weekday

Indian Republic Day, India News

World News – CA – Indian farmers clash with police and face tear gas during Republic Day protests