India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repealed controversial farm reforms that stoked deadly clashes between farmers and police over the weekend.
The Indian government said Monday it has “suspended” two laws aimed at relaxing rules on bankruptcy proceedings and irrigation, aimed at reviving the world’s third-largest farm sector.
“The two measures will restore normalcy in the agricultural sector and encourage the confidence of farmers,” Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said in a statement Monday.
State authorities in central Madhya Pradesh had announced Sunday they had invoked Article 356 of the Indian constitution, which allows them to take the laws into their own hands.
In the small town of Mandsaur, nearly 60 people died over the weekend in clashes with police that followed similar protests elsewhere in the region.
The prime minister had defended the government’s handling of the crisis, telling reporters, “Freedom of expression will be protected.”
Under the anti-insolvency laws, farmers in India would no longer have to prove their assets, following in the footsteps of other Asian economies such as China and South Korea.
Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi says that, should the government continue with such measures, “farmers will rise up in the next general election and the country will be with them.”
The government’s efforts to boost growth in the agricultural sector, key to its drive to reach the goal of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022, have angered lawmakers in Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.
Some observers say the government has been pursuing a pro-corporate approach that has stifled farm loans and left the sector burdened with a large debt burden.
GSI ASSOCIATED PRESS AND ABU DHABI ENABL