Angry Indian farmers besiege capital in trucks

NEW DELHI (AP) : Instead of cars, the normally busy highway on the outskirts of New Delhi that connects most northern Indian towns to the capital is filled with tens of thousands of protesting farmers, many wearing colorful turbans.

Their convoy of trucks, trailers and tractors stretches for at least three kilometers (1.8 miles). Inside, they have hunkered down, supplied with enough food and fuel to last weeks.

Darshan Singh, 68, sits in the back of his tractor trailer parked on a highway, adding to a convoy of farmers’ trucks, trailers and tractors sretching for at least three kilometers (1.8 miles) protesting against new farm laws, at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

It’s a siege of sorts and the mood among the protesting farmers is boisterous. Their rallying call is “Inquilab Zindabad” (“Long live the revolution”).

The farmers are protesting new laws they say will result in their exploitation by corporations, eventually rendering them landless.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, rattled by the growing rebellion, insists the reforms will benefit them.

But the farmers aren’t yielding.

Protesting farmers, Raghuvir Singh, right, and Gurnam Singh bask in the morning sun while sitting next to their tractor parked on a highway, at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Balbir Singh rests on a makeshift bed placed on his tractor parked on a highway as part of protests against new farm laws at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

At night, they sleep inside the trailers or under the trucks. During the day, they sit huddled in groups at the backs of the vehicles, surrounded by mounds of rice, lentils and vegetables.

They take early morning cold showers in the open and spend lazy afternoons reading newspapers on neatly spread foam mattresses. Sitting cross-legged on a piece of cloth under their trucks, they play cards to fill the time.

Meals are prepared in enormous pots stirred with wooden spoons the size of canoe paddles. Food is served in hundreds of makeshift roadside soup kitchens. Washed clothes are hung neatly to dry on ropes stretched between tractors.

Davender Singh, 29, basks in the morning sun next to his tractor as he joins farmers protesting new laws they say will result in their exploitation by corporations, at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

From left to right, Sahajpal Singh, Arjun Singh, Jagmohan Singh and Gurdayal Singh chat as they sit inside a tent pitched on a highway protesting against new farm laws, at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Jagir Singh, 71, ties his turban using the help of a tractor before joining fellow farmers for a protest against new farm laws, at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

“We aren’t going to leave this place,” said Gurpreet Singh, 26, a biotechnology student from a farming family. “It’s a fight for our survival.”

Every day, thousands more join the protesters.

The protests started in September but drew nationwide attention last week when the farmers marched from northern Punjab and Haryana, two of India’s largest agricultural states. On their way to the capital, they pushed aside concrete barricades set up by police and braved tear gas, batons and water cannons.

Now, on the outskirts of New Delhi, they are blocking highways, unwilling to withdraw and threatening to besiege the capital if their demands aren’t met.

“It will be a long battle,” said farmer Darshan Singh Khatauli, 65. “It is up to the government when they want to end this.”

Farmer Atma Singh, 62, sits for a photograph next to his tractor parked on a highway as part of protest against new farm laws at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Savek Singh, 48, rests inside his vehicle parked on a highway as he joins a farmers protest, at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Farmer Satnam Singh, 67, repairs his makeshift cot attached to his tractor trailer parked on a highway as he joins tens of thousands of protesting farmers, in the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Farmer Sikandar Machhonda, 22, sits at the back of his tractor trailer parked on a highway in a sign of protest against new farm laws, at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Hardeep Singh, 42, stands for a photograph next to his tractor trailer parked on a highway as he joins tens of thousands of protesting farmers raising their voices against new farm laws, at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Jagir Singh, 71, looks in the mirror of a tractor as he ties his turban before joining fellow farmers protesting against new farm laws at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Farmer Harinder Singh, 28, stands for a photograph next to his tractor parked on a highway during a protest against new farm laws, at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Indian farmer Surender Singh, 70, sits on a chair and gets a massage beside a truck parked on a highway, part of a convoy of farm vehicles stretching for at least three kilometers (1.8 miles), at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Amrik Singh Mikka, 78, sits for a photograph on the back of his tractor trailer parked on a highway as he participates in a protest against new farm laws at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Farmer Ravinder Singh, 21, leans on the bonnet of his car parked on a highway as he joins a convoy of trucks, trailers and tractors stretching for at least three kilometers (1.8 miles) as part of a protest movement, at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Farmer Bhupinder Singh, 50, sits inside his car parked on a highway as a sign of protest against new farm laws, at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Farmers Sukhvinder Singh, lying down, Harnam Singh, left, and Kuldeep Singh look at a mobile phone as they retire after a day of protest, on at the Delhi-Haryana state border highway, India, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Farmer Brijender Singh, 24, looks at his mobile phone while sitting on his tractor parked on a highway as part of a protest movement at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Karmat Singh, 62, right, and Joginder Singh, 77, pray inside their tractor trailer parked on a highway as they join a protest against new farm bills, at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Farmer Avtar Singh, 70, looks at his mobile phone as he sits inside his SUV parked on a highway as part of a protest movement at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

AP Photos

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