Farmers’ Protest LIVE Updates: Union minister Prakash Javdekar on Friday said the government believes that farmers will accept the demands for one more round of talks and no law and order situation will arise due to the protests even as the farmers planned to intensify their agitation on Saturday by blocking highways connecting Delhi with Jaipur and Agra.
Farmers have said that if the government wants to talk, that should be formally conveyed like in previous occasions. Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait asserted that anything less than scrapping of the new agri laws won’t be accepted. The government on Thursday asked farmer groups to consider its proposals for amending the Acts to address their concerns and said it was open to discussing its offer further whenever the unions want.
The Bhartiya Kisan Union today filed a petition in the Supreme Court asking it to quash three agricultural laws passed by Parliament in September as they were “illegal, arbitrary, approved in haste and will expose the farmers to corporate greed”.
Two IPS officers who were leading the police force at Singhu border where hundreds of farmers have been on protest have tested positive for Covid-19, the Delhi Police said today, leading to fears of the disease’s spread in the crowd. Farmers agitating for the past two weeks against the new agri-marketing laws have, meanwhile, announced that they will block railway tracks if their demands are not met by the government. Hundreds of more farmers have left Armitsar for Delhi’s Kundli border on board 700 tractor trolleys.
The announcement by farmers came on a day Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said it was not proper to announce the next stage of agitation when talks were continuing and urged the unions to return to the discussion table. Tomar also urged farmer union leaders to consider proposals sent to them to break the deadlock over protests and said the government is ready for further discussions with them any time.
“Centre has admitted that laws have been made for traders. If agriculture is a state subject, the central government does not have right to make laws on it,” said Balbir Singh Rajewal, another leader. Thousands of farmers have been protesting at various border points for almost two weeks seeking a repeal of the new agri laws, which they claim were aimed at benefitting corporates by weakening the mandi system and the minimum support price (MSP) regime for procurement of farm produce.
The government had on Wednesday proposed to give a “written assurance” that the existing MSP regime for procurement will continue. However, the farmers’ unions rejected the proposal and said they would intensify their agitation until the government accepts their demand for a complete repeal of the three laws.
The government has also proposed to make necessary amendments on at least seven issues, including one to allay fears about the weakening of the mandi system. “Five rounds of talks have already been held with the government, but they remained inconclusive. So far, the government has not sent us any invitation for another round of talks. If government sends us proposal for a meeting, we will decide it in our meeting,” another farmer leader Shiv Kumar Kakka told PTI.
Asked about solution to ongoing standoff with the government, Kakka said, “only God knows.” “We are facing a lot of difficulties due to cold weather and the COVID-19 pandemic, but despite this, we will continue our protest until our demands are met,” Kakka also added. Meanwhile, Chandigarh-based farmers’ organisation AIKCC, not one of the 40 unions that are protesting at Delhi borders seeking repeal of the farm laws, on Thursday welcomed the government’s gesture to keep the dialogue open with farm leaders.
BS Mann, founder of Bhartiya Kisan Union and chairman of All India Kisan Coordination Committee (AIKCC) — that represents 20-odd state level farmer organizations — said the committee’s suggestions made to the government in June for some changes in the three farm laws have “prima facie” been accepted. “It was noticed by the national committee that all the suggestions were prima facie accepted by the government which will lead to end this current stalemate,” AIKCC said in a statement.