India blocks mobile internet services near Delhi as hundreds of farmers begin hunger-strike

Protesting farmers begin hunger-strike as Indian government blocks mobile internet services Credit: AP

India has blocked mobile internet services in areas near New Delhi as hundreds of farmers begin a one-day hunger-strike on Saturday.

Those in camps near the capital city have been stripped of access to social media after more than two months of demonstrations. 

It comes after clashes with police earlier this week turned violent, leaving one dead and hundreds injured.

Farmers used tractors to storm the 17th century Red Fort on Tuesday, on the same day as India’s Republic Day.

Protesting farmers seen amid tear gas smoke fired by police to stop them from marching to the capital during India's Republic Day Credit: AP

In an attempt to get farmers to leave, hundreds of riot police attended resulting in dangerous clashes. 

Thousands of farmers fought back as they breached barricades and confronted police who responded by using tear gas and baton charges. 

Since then, India’s interior ministry has suspended internet services at three different locations on the outskirts of Delhi. It's suspended until 11pm on Sunday in order to ‘maintain public safety’.

Water and electricity at the camps where farmers are staying has also been cut off.

Indian farmers have been protesting for more than two months against new agriculture laws Credit: AP

Tens of thousands of farmers have been protesting against new agriculture laws which they say will affect their livelihood.

In hopes to get Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government to reconsider their decision, farmers have been blocking a highway into the capital city. 

They are demanding the withdrawal of the laws which were passed by Parliament in September last year. 

Farmers fear that under the new law, they could be denied the Minimum Support Price which many rely on. 

If the market becomes unregulated, it could make them vulnerable to corporate greed.

However, the Indian government believes the laws are necessary in order to modernise the agriculture in the country and therefore are refusing to amend them.

Farmers begin a day-long hunger strike to protest against new farm laws in India Credit: AP

Demonstrators started a one-day hunger-strike on Saturday to coincide with the anniversary of the death of the Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi. They say this is to reaffirm the peaceful nature of the protests.

Farmers’ leader, Jasbir Singh Virk said: ‘’Our only way is to sit peacefully and get out message across. If Gandhi could get us independence by peaceful protest then someday we will surely get our right.’’

To protest is our right, and no one can stop us.’’

A farmer, Sukhdev Singh, who is also on hunger-strike said: ‘’If we don’t have anything, then it’s better to die here than at home.’’

Thousands of farmers drove tractors into the capital city as the nation celebrated Republic Day on Tuesday Credit: AP

Last week, farmers and the government failed to reach an agreement after meeting for talks for the eleventh time.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar asked farmers to reconsider their rejection of an offer to set up a committee to look into their concerns about the laws.

No new date has been set for another meeting.

India’s highest court temporarily put the controversial new laws on hold earlier this month.

The Supreme Court ordered that an independent committee of experts should be  formed first to negotiate with the farmers opposed to the legislation. 

Judges said that they were disappointed with the way the talks have been handled and ruled that the laws were passed without enough consultation.