Farmers’ protest: Farmer leaders rejected the government’s offer to amend new farm laws, saying they would settle for nothing less than the scrapping of the legislations.
New Delhi: Protesting farmers have unanimously rejected the Centre’s written offer of amendments in farm laws, and announced a series of plans to escalate their protest. The plans involve closure of the Delhi-Jaipur Highway, boycott of Reliance malls and capture of toll plazas. By December 14, there will be a full-scale protest across the country, they said. The decision was taken at a meeting after the Centre sent a written proposal laying out a series of amendments, an idea turned down by farmers who demand scrapping of the laws. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, whose meeting with farmers was inconclusive yesterday, is now meeting Agriculture minister Narendra Tomar.
Here are the top 10 updates on farmers’ protest:
- Announcing the plans of the farmer unions after a meeting this evening, farmer leader Dr Darshanpal said, “We will block the Delhi-Jaipur highway by December 12. We will sit on dharna at all the toll plazas of country on December 12. We have called for a nationwide protest on 14th. We have asked the people to protest against every MP and MLA of the BJP”.
- In the proposal sent earlier to 13 agitating farmer unions, the Centre promised a written assurance for minimum support prices, allowing farmers to go to court to resolve disputes instead of a sub-divisional magistrate and scrapping of the Electricity Amendment bill, which they opposed.
- The government also offered to make amendments in the laws to address the concerns of farmers in various areas. To allay fears that big corporates will take over farmlands, the government said it can be clarified that no buyer can take loans against farmland nor any such condition will be made to farmers.
- Amendments can also be made so that state governments can register the traders operating outside mandis. States can also impose tax and cess as they used in the APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) mandis on them.
- At a meeting held at Singhu border before the government’s written proposals came in, the farmers decided that they would continue their protest till the government removes the farm laws. “We do not accept any amendment in the laws, we want total removal,” the farmers’ representatives said.
- Last evening, a meeting between Union Home Minister Amit Shah and the farmers had remained inconclusive, with the minister repeating the offer of amendments which the farmers had declined. The sixth meeting scheduled with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar for today was cancelled.
- The BJP, which claimed big gains in Rajasthan local body elections, said it was proof that farmers had overwhelming support for the Centre’s reforms. “Despite the opposition’s attack on farm reforms, people are supporting the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” said Union minister Prakash Javadekar.
- Mr Javadekar described the talks with farmers as “work in progress”. “If negotiations are going on between two parties, it will be considered work-in-progress. There can be no running commentary on this. It is work-in-progress,” he told reporters.
- A team of opposition leaders met President Ram Nath Kovind this evening to submit a memorandum on the farmers’ issues. The meeting comes amid talk of a rift in the opposition. A section of Trinamool Congress leaders said the party preferred to stay away from the meeting as Left parties and the Congress are “dominating the show”.
- More than 10 days ago, thousands of farmers had reached Delhi borders to protest against the farm laws, which they say will shrink their income by doing away with the minimum prices fixed by the government and leave them at the mercy of corporates. The government says the laws are major reforms in the farm sector that will help farmers dispense with middlemen and allow them to sell produce anywhere in the country. At least five farmers have died since the protests began.