Farmers' Protest Updates: Thousands of farmers have been camping at Delhi's borders for nearly four weeks demanding repeal of the Centre's three farm laws. Several rounds of talks have failed to end the deadlock between the farmers and the government.
Farmers' Protest LATEST Updates: Centre writes to protesting farmers' unions inviting them for next round of talks, asks them to choose date, reported news agency PTI. As per The Indian Express , the Union government has invited representatives of the agitating farmers for a meeting at Delhi's Vidyan Bhawan, as per their convenience.
Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), one of Punjab's largest farmer organisations protesting against the recent farm laws, on Sunday said it has been asked by a central agency to submit its registration details which allow it to receive foreign funds.
The BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan) president Joginder Ugrahan and its general secretary Sukhdev Singh revealed about the Union government's demand alleging that the Centre is using all tactics as their sole purpose is to defeat the ongoing agitation.
"Farmers will begin a day-long relay hunger strike on Monday at all sites of protest against the new agri laws. It will be started by a team of 11 members at protests sites here," Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav said at a press conference at the Singhu border. He also urged people demonstrating against the laws across the country to observe a day-long hunger strike at their respective protest sites.
Announcing the next move, farmer leader Jagjeet Singh Dalewala said farmers will halt toll collection on highways in Haryana from 25 to 27 December.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar is likely to meet protesting farmers on Monday or Tuesday to discuss their demands, news agency PTI quotes Home Minister Amit Shah as saying."I am not exactly aware of the timing but Tomar is likely to meet the representatives of farmers tomorrow or the day after to discuss their demands," Shah told a press conference.
Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait on Sunday said that Kisan Diwas is scheduled to be celebrated on 23 December. "I would urge people to skip a meal on that day," he said.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) president Manjit Singh Rai was quoted as saying on Sunday that the farmer unions, protesting against the three farm laws brought by the Centre, are "not seeing any pragmatic changes from government’s side".
“The government is delaying our matter unnecessarily. They should have repealed the laws by now and send the farmers back to their homes. Although the government has stated that before the new year begins there would be a solution, however pragmatically speaking, we are not seeing anything hopeful or even close to that," he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with farmers on the birth anniversary of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee on 25 December, the BJP said, adding that the party will hold kisan samvad at over 2,500 places in Uttar Pradesh. In a statement issued on Saturday, the party said it has intensified its preparations for it.
UP BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh and party leader Radha Mohan Singh held a virtual meeting in this regard with party office-bearers from parts of the state. Radha Mohan Singh said the Narendra Modi-led government is dedicated to welfare of the poor and farmers.
"Had the amount of welfare done by the Modi Government been done in the past, the condition of farmers would have been better," Singh said. He accused the opposition parties of spreading lies regarding the new farm laws.
There can be a way out for the next round of talks between the government and farmer unions protesting against the Centre's new farm laws in a day or two, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar said after meeting Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Saturday.
This is the second time the Haryana chief minister met Tomar at his residence since the protests broke out over three weeks ago, a state government official told PTI, adding that he had met the Union minister earlier on 8 December.
"In a day or two, there can be a way out for talks. The government is ready for discussion if farmer union leaders come forward beyond yes or no," Khattar was quoted as saying in a Haryana government statement.
"There can't be any solution within the boundary of 'yes or no'. Solutions can be found only after discussion on specific issues. We are hopeful of positive outcome," he added.
The chief minister said he discussed with Tomar about the ongoing farmer protests. "Effort is to find solutions through dialogue," he said.
"Farmers are our own people and I completely empathise with them. I called on Union agriculture minister to update him on the inputs I received from some people who met me as well and shared some more changes (to the farm laws)," Khattar said, according to the statement.
The government can think of changes to the farm laws more than what it has done, he added.
On the Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal dispute, Khattar urged Punjab's farmers to take the issue seriously. He said crops in Punjab get damaged due to excess water and therefore this issue need to be resolved.
The meeting comes a day after BJP leader and former Union minister Chaudhary Birender Singh joined a protest in support of the farmers at Haryana's Rohtak.
The dharna was organised by the members of the Sir Chhotu Ram Manch. Singh is the grandson of Sir Chhotu Ram, a prominent Jat leader of the pre-independence era who championed the interests of farmers.
Farmers from different parts of the country, including Haryana and Punjab, have been camping at various border points of Delhi for three weeks to demand a repeal of three recent farm laws.
They worry that these laws will eliminate the safety net of the minimum support price (MSP), do away with the "mandi" (wholesale market) system and leave them at the "mercy of big corporates", apprehensions the government has been insisting are misplaced.
Meanwhile, farmers camping at Delhi-Noida border in protests against the three recent farm laws of the Centre on Saturday burnt copies of an open letter of Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar's written to them in a bid to pacify them.
A group of members from the transgender community also joined farmers at their protest site at Chilla border during the day and entertained them with songs and dance, with some of them also taking digs at the government over its alleged adamant attitude over farm laws.
Scores of protestors from various districts of western Uttar Pradesh are camping at the Chilla border here and at a nearby Dalit Prerna Sthal since the first week of December.
As members of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Bhanu), who are at Chilla border, burnt copies of the minister's letter, Yogesh Pratap Singh, the UP unit chief of farmers' group, said, The protest will not be over until the three laws are repealed.
The traffic movement on the Noida-Delhi Link Road via Chilla border, meanwhile, remained disrupted as only one carriageway was open and the other closed for commuters due to the agitation.
The Noida to Delhi lane is closed but the other lane (Delhi to Noida) is open. Other routes between Delhi and Noida the DND and Kalindi Kunj are open for commuters, a Noida Traffic Police official said.
On Saturday, a group of farmers from Eta district also joined the BKU (Bhanu)-led demonstration at the Chilla border, while scores of BKU (Lok Shakti) members stayed put at the Dalit Prerna Sthal.
A group of farmers from adjoining Bulandshahr district had attempted to move to Delhi via Greater Noida and Noida to join the larger protest sites at Delhi-Haryana border but were stopped by the police, said officials.
These protestors had gathered at the Luharli Toll Plaza in Dadri area where they were pacified by police officials and convinced into returning home. They agreed to return after submitting a memorandum of their demands to officers, a police spokesperson said.
Normal traffic was restored soon at the toll plaza, the official added.
The protestors who have gathered at the Noida border want to proceed to Delhi to join the larger stir sites at Delhi-Haryana border.
Thousands of farmers are currently staying put at Delhi's borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in protest against the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
They have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporations.
However, the government has been maintaining that the new laws will bring better opportunities for farmers and usher in new technologies in agriculture.