Talks between 35 farmers' unions, Centre inconclusive, next meet on 3 Dec; Bhim Army extends support to protesters

Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) member Roopsingh Sinha told PTI that the farmer's unions’ have rejected the govt’s proposal to form a five-member committee to look into the issues related to the new farm laws, however, there is no official confirmation yet

FP Staff December 01, 2020 20:48:48 IST
Talks between 35 farmers' unions, Centre inconclusive, next meet on 3 Dec; Bhim Army extends support to protesters

Farmers sit in protest against Centre's farm laws in Amritsar. PTI

A meeting between a delegation of 35 farmers unions and the Central Government remained inconclusive, failing to break the impasse over three recent farm laws that have seen farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh march to Delhi while several thousand parked along the National Capital's borders and demonstrating against the laws.

Centre has called for another round of talks with protesting farmers on 3 December.

The farmers' "Delhi Chalo" protest which began on 25 November with them marching to National Capital entered the seventh day on Tuesday. Farmers have said that it is time for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to listen to their “Mann ki Baat” and warned that the Centre would have to pay a heavy price for not doing so otherwise. The farmers maintained that their demands to withdraw the three agricultural laws were non-negotiable.

As per PTI, the government during the meeting on Tuesday had offered to set up a committee to look into the issues raised by farmers protesting against new farm laws.

Sources told the wire agency that the farmer representatives were yet to respond to the offer from the government more than two hours into the meeting, but all of them were unanimous in seeking repeal of the three laws that they have been terming as being against the interest of the farm community.

The protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the Centre's farm laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.

The government, however, has maintained that farm laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.

Talks between 35 farmers unions Centre inconclusive next meet on 3 Dec Bhim Army extends support to protesters

Farmers hold candles in support of the Haryana farmers organisations near outskirts of Amritsar. AFP

During the interaction, the government also suggested to the farmer representatives "to identify the specific issues related to Farm Reform Acts and share with the government on December 2 for consideration. These issues will be discussed during the fourth round of meeting to be held on 3 December", PTI quoted a statement issued by the government as saying.

After the meeting, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) said in a statement that the talks remained inconclusive and the government's proposal was not acceptable to farm unions.

It further said protests will now intensify across the country until their demands are met. Soon after the Vigyan Bhawan meeting ended, a separate round of talks began at the Agriculture Ministry with representatives of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU).

Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) member Roopsingh Sinha told PTI that the farmer's unions’ have rejected the government’s proposal to form a five-member committee to look into the issues related to the new farm laws.

The Centre also gave presentations on Minimum Support Price for crops and the new farm laws during the meeting between leaders of farmer unions and the Centre at Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan.

NDA ally and Jannayak Janta Party leader Ajay Chautala, earlier today, had questioned the government on not mentioning the guarantee of Minimum Support Price in the new laws, reports ANI.

“Government leaders are giving statements that they will continue Minimum Support Price,” says Chautala. “What is the problem in incorporating this in the Bill?”

Next round of talks on 3 Dec; meeting inconclusive

After the meeting, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar Tomar announced that another round of talks will be held between the two sides on 3 December (Thursday).

“We wanted a small group to be constituted but farmers’ leaders wanted that the talks should be held with everyone, we do not have problem with it,” Singh told ANI.

Meanwhile, Chanda Singh, a farmers leader who was part of the delegation that met the Centre, said that their agitation against the new agricultural laws will continue.

“We will definitely take back something from the government, be it bullets or a peaceful solution,” he added.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) President Joginder Singh Ugrahan told PTI that the meeting between the Central Government officials and the protesting farmer unions remained inconclusive.

At the nearly three-hour-long meeting at Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi, Tomar was accompanied by Railways and Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, also an MP from Punjab.

Thirty-five farmers’ unions had accepted the Centre’s invitation for early talks at 3 pm in Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan in an attempt to find a resolution to the escalating protests.

Talks between 35 farmers unions Centre inconclusive next meet on 3 Dec Bhim Army extends support to protesters

Ahead of this meeting with the farmers, Tomar had met with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at Bharatiya Janata Party chief JP Nadda’s residence. This was the second meeting of the senior BJP leaders in less than 48 hours, reports The Indian Express.

Tomar, ahead of the talks, said that the offers that the government will make will depend on the exact demands of the protesting farmers.

The talks that were scheduled to happen on 3 December were preponed taking into consideration the COVID-19 situation and winters, Tomar said.

“We decided to conduct the next round of talks on 3 December, but the farmers continued their protests and with the COVID-19 situation and winters, we decided that the talks should be held earlier,” ANI quoted Tomar as saying.

Tomar also stated that the farmers have misunderstood the newly enacted three laws, hence the government is ready to talk with the Kisan Unions, who were present in the first round of meeting with the Centre, news agency ANI reported.

Shaheen Bagh dadi detained, BHIM army chief joins protests

Meanwhile, on Tuesday evening, the police detained Shaheen Bagh activist Bilkis ‘Dadi’ from the Singhu border after she joined the agitation. Earlier, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad also joined the protest at the Ghazipur-Ghaziabad border.

Ahead of the arrest, Bilkis Dadi had said that the government should listen to the demands of the farmers. “We are the daughters of farmers. We will go to support farmers in the protest today. We will raise our voice, the government should listen to us,” she said.

Meanwhile, Bhim Army chief Azad joined the protesting farmers at the Delhi-Ghazipur border on Tuesday along with hundreds of his supporters and demanded that the new farm laws be withdrawn immediately.

The Dalit leader from Uttar Pradesh, who launched his political party in March this year, told PTI, "The farmers have been fighting for their rights in this cold. These laws should be withdrawn immediately."

"We extend our full support to our farmers. We are with them in this fight," he said.

Several former sportspersons to return awards

Several former sportspersons including Padma Shri and Arjuna awardees have extended their support to the agitating farmers and said they will return their awards in protest against the "force" used against the peasants en route to Delhi.

Among them are Padma Shri and Arjuna awardee wrestler Kartar Singh, Arjuna awardee basketball player Sajjan Singh Cheema and Arjuna awardee hockey player Rajbir Kaur.

They said they will proceed to Delhi on 5 December and will place their awards outside the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

They slammed the Centre and Haryana government for using water cannons and teargas against the protesting farmers to stop them from going to Delhi.

Farmers had faced water cannons and teargas when they were heading towards the National Capital as part of their 'Delhi Chalo' march against the farm laws.

Students join farmers' protest at Singhu, Tikri borders

Students from various universities in Delhi on Tuesday joined the farmers protesting at Singhu and Tikri borders and expressed solidarity with them in their fight against the Centre's new farm laws.

The protesters part of a student outfit, Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS), demanded that three farm legislations should be revoked unconditionally and the BJP government at the Centre should apologise to the people for introducing such "anti-people laws".

"We have launched agitations in different states in solidarity with the ongoing movement and to bring to the fore the issues being faced especially by the most exploited section, agricultural workers in the farming sector.

Through the enactment of new laws, the BJP government is aiming to benefit the corporates and rich farmers, and completely pauperise the small-marginal farmers and agricultural workers," the KYS said in a statement.

With inputs from PTI

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