Prime Minister Narendra Modi, strongly defending laws that have triggered massive farmer protests near Delhi, said he was ready "with folded hands" to discuss every issue and assuage concerns.
"If anyone has any concerns, then with our heads bowed, our hands folded, with humility, we are willing to allay their fears," PM Modi said, addressing farmers in Madhya Pradesh via video. He also said talk about MSP or Minimum Support Prices ending with the new laws "is the biggest lie ever".
Here are the Highlights on farmers' protests:
Delhi: A group of volunteers launches 'Trolley Times' newsletter at Singhu border where farmers are protesting against the new farm laws. "This is an attempt to write my experience as I participate in this protest," says Surmeet Maavi, the man behind the initiative. pic.twitter.com/6imiuCLvlw- ANI (@ANI) December 18, 2020
Apart from providing books for the youth to read, the library also offers them a platform to discuss current topics.
The tent is used in the evenings, to recreate a tradition, ''Sanjhi Sath'', where the villagers gather to listen to their elders' advice.
There are 10 teaching volunteers and 150 volunteers for cleaning the area.
The groups of volunteers are also actively teaching the slum students, who are unable to go to schools owing to the ongoing Covid-19 situation.
"This place is Sanjhi Sath for discussion, for youth there is a library for reading. We have books in several languages available for reading. One more initiative is to teach slum students. Many parents came and asked if we could teach their ward as well," said Survinder Singh Wadwa, a volunteer providing this service.
Several newspapers and books are seen at the protest site, including biographies of revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Che Guevara and of various genres in English, Hindi and Punjabi.
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested the opposition political parties with "folded hands" to keep all the credit for the agricultural sector reforms on Friday, Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury slammed the "manner" in which he delivered the speech.
"If you want to take credit, then take it and withdraw the recently enacted farm laws, this is what I want to say to the Prime Minister," he said, commenting on PM Modi's speech.
He added there should be reforms in the agricultural sector. "But what kind of reform is it (the three new farm laws)? If it is for farmers, then thousands, who are sitting on protest, do not understand their well-being."
The Sambhal administration on Friday withdrew notices served on 20 farmer leaders, who were told to furnish personal bonds of Rs 50,000 each after police apprehended breach of peace during protests against the Centre's farm laws.
Amid the ongoing farmers' agitation in the country, Union Minister Smriti Irani on Friday said the parties which were members of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) were misguiding farmers about the three agriculture laws.
Speaking at a Kisan Sammelan (farmers' conference) in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut, Ms Irani said the leaders opposing the farm laws never worked for the farmers' welfare and questioned what was so "objectionable in the laws" that Congress and other UPA supporters are protesting against them.
"It is for the first time in their lifetime that poor farmers have a Pradhan Sevak who is providing them with a health cover of Rs 5 lakh under Ayushman Bharat, and made arrangements for cooking gas cylinders for them. The opposition leaders opposing the farm laws never worked for them. They are doing politics on the bills. What''s so objectionable in the bills that the Congress and other UPA supporters are protesting against it?" Ms Irani asked.
She claimed the government had held discussions on the laws with farmers' unions six months before they were passed in Parliament, and added that House was also assured that the minimum support price would not be discontinued.
Boxer and Congress leader Vijender Singh on Friday distributed food at a langar organised by the Jamindara Student Organisation (JSO) for protesting farmers at the Tikri Border on Friday.
While speaking to ANI, Vijender Singh said that his fight is not against the government but against the newly enacted farm laws. "We are here to serve the farmers of our country. Our fight is not against the government but the three black laws," he said.
Mr Singh had also joined the farmers' agitation at Singhu border (Haryana-Delhi border) on December 6 and said that he will return his Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award if the new agriculture laws are not withdrawn.
Congress promise during the 2018 polls in states like Madhya Pradesh, to waive farm loans. "What loud and large promises were made before the Madhya Pradesh elections, that if they win, they will write off all the farm loans for every farmer in the state within 10 days. They do nothing but lie and try to use you with promises or by playing on your fears," he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today strongly defended farm laws at the core of massive farmer protests, saying these were discussed for over two decades by every government but the opposition resented his government because they would not get credit.
"These laws were not brought in overnight. In past 22 years, every government, state has discussed these in detail. Farmer groups, agricultural experts, economists, scientists and progressive farmers have called for reforms. Parties opposing these laws today promised these reforms in their manifestos," PM Modi said, addressing farmers in Madhya Pradesh via video.
"These parties are pained today. They are asking themselves, what we couldn't do, how could Modi do? Why should he get credit? My reply to them is - you keep the credit. Even I will give credit to your own manifestos. I don't want credit. I want farmers' lives to improve. Stop misleading farmers."
"I want to caution all those who are being misled and instigated in the name of these farm laws," PM Modi said.
"If you all have any genuine points you want to discuss, please being those issues and we shall discuss. But don't get misled by these people who are finding a ground by lying to you that you will lose yours," he added.
"Even today, they are using you for their own personal benefits. They are just using you to do politics to find relevance today - since they have lost their political ground," the Prime Minister said.
PM Narendra Modi has started his address to Madhya Pradesh farmers. The address comes amid a large protest by farmers at Delhi borders.
A "clerical error" from an official at the district administration led to ₹ 50 lakh printed in the notice sent to farmer leaders in western Uttar Pradesh's Sambhal, a police official told NDTV, adding that a revised notice has been sent to them.
"It was a clerical error. We have revised the amount in the notice to ₹ 50,000," Sambhal SP Chakresh Mishra told NDTV.
The Sub-Divisional Magistrate in Sambhal had sent the notice to farm leaders citing a police report that warned that they would "incite" farmers to join the protests against the Centre's new laws. The notice had sought an explanation from farmers on why they should not submit personal bonds of ₹ 50 lakh each. Read
Amid the ongoing farmers' protest against the new farm laws, yet another farmer grouping FIFA on Thursday met Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and extended support for the legislations.
The Federation of Indian FPOs and Aggregators (FIFA) is the sixth group of farmers that has extended support for the laws in the last two weeks. The previous groups were from Haryana, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
The Sambhal district administration in Uttar Pradesh has issued notices to six farmer leaders asking them to submit personal bonds of ₹ 50,000 each, as a police report warned of breach of peace during the protest against the new farm laws, an official said on Thursday.
The six farmers, who were served notices, include Bharatiya Kisan Union (Asli) district president Rajpal Singh Yadav and farmer leaders Jaiveer Singh, Brahmachari Yadav, Satendra Yadav, Raudas and Veer Singh. They have been organising protests in the district over the Centre's three contentious farm legislations.
Wholesale agriculture markets, or mandis, in Madhya Pradesh will remain open, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan asserted Wednesday, offering assurances to farmers from the state who are among those protesting against the centre's three contentious farm laws.
Addressing a farmers' meet in Rewa district, the Chief Minister insisted mandis would remain open and that the centre's laws were only meant to help farmers secure better prices for their crop. Read
Satyadev Manjhi, a 60-year-old man from Bihar's Siwan reached Tikri at Delhi-Haryana border on Thursday, after completing a journey of nearly 1,000 kilometres in 11 days on a bicycle to participate in the ongoing farmers' protest against agricultural laws.
Speaking to ANI, Mr Manjhi urged the Central government to repeal the three farm laws.Read
An eight-page letter from Union agriculture minister Narendra Tomar marked the beginning of the BJP's big outreach programme for the protesting farmers on Thursday. The letter was released after a party meeting that was attended by its key leaders --- Union minister Amit Shah, his cabinet colleagues Piyush Goyal, Nirmala Sitharaman, Mr Tomar and party chief JP Nadda.
"Narendra Tomar Ji has expressed his feelings by writing a letter to farmer brothers and sisters, trying to have a polite dialogue. I request all the contributors to read it. The countrymen are also urged to make it reach to as many people as possible," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.