Farmers protest: Narendra Singh Tomar met with farmers today to discuss the farm laws
- Farmers' representatives stick to demand for repeal of 3 contentious laws
- Farmers made a 39-point presentation on inadequacies of new farm laws
- Talks to continue Saturday; farmers' representatives say "decide now"
The seven-hour meeting between the Centre and farmers on Thursday failed to end the deadlock, with farmers' representatives saying nothing less than scrapping of the contentious laws will satisfy them. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar, who led the negotiations, said the government "has no ego". The next meeting will be held on Saturday. "We will ask the government tomorrow (Friday) whether they will scrap the law and if they refuse, we may not attend the December 5 meeting," said Jagmohan Singh, the general secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda). Farmers, who had refused to accept food, tea and even water from the government, said they will take a final decision at a meeting on Friday.
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"The government suggested an amendment in all three laws. But the farmers' organisations unanimously said all the three laws should be repealed. The government assured that they can consider new laws on Minimum Support Price," said Balkaran Singh Brar, a leader of All-India Kisan Sabha. Maharashtra farmer leader Shankar Darekar, who participated in the talks, claimed the government's offer to consider amendments shows it is on the backfoot..
"The government will consider giving more legal rights to farmers. MSP will continue, we have assured farmers of MSP," Union minister Narendra Tomar said after the meeting. "It would be good if the farmers can call off the protest," added the minister, who had conducted the negotiations along with cabinet colleague Piyush Goyal and junior industry minister Som Parkash.
The government will consider giving more legal rights to farmers. The Minimum Support Price will continue, we have assured the farmers," the minister added. He also said the government will consider the farmers' demand of taking their grievances to court and not the Sub-Divisional Magistrate.
"Discussions are over from our side. Our leaders have said they will not attend further meetings if a solution is not given today (Thursday) by the government," Pratibha Shinde, working group member and president of Lok Sangharsh Morcha, which represents farmers of Maharashtra and Gujarat, was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.
At Thursday's meeting, the farmers' representatives made a 39-point presentation on the inadequacies of the contentious new farm laws, after which the government gave its views. At the lunch break during the meeting, farmers refused to have the food offered by the government. "They offered us food, we denied and are sticking to our langar which we have brought with us," a farmer leader said.
Earlier on Thursday, Parkash Singh Badal, Shiromani Akali Dal leader and former Punjab Chief Minister, returned his Padma Vibhushan, India's second-highest civilian award, in protest against the government's "betrayal of farmers". Sahitya Akademi Award winners from Punjab -- renowned poet Mohanjit, story writer Jaswinder and playwright Swarajbir who is also Editor of Punjabi Tribune -- have also returned their awards.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who met Union Home Minister Amit Shah ahead of the farmers' meeting, said he requested both sides to resolve the issue "as it affects the economy of my state and security of the nation".
The Delhi-Meerut Expressway was shut after it became clogged with incoming tractors and trucks on protesting farmers from Punjab. The Chilla border is also blocked for Noida to Delhi passage, though the other side remains open. The National Highway-9, another entry point to Delhi, has been closed. The DND flyway to Noida, however, is open.
Farmers are camped out at four busy entry points of the national capital -- Singhu, Noida, Ghazipur and Tikri -- to press their demands. Farmers from Uttar Pradesh are holding a sit-in protest at the Noida-Delhi border for the third straight day. In Singhu, the administration said farmers who have fever will be given free Covid tests.
Thousands of farmers, who have braved water cannons, tear gas and police barricades, began their protest last week against the farm laws, aimed at doing away with middlemen and allowing them to sell produce anywhere in the country. Farmers say the laws will deprive them of the minimum prices fixed by the government and leave them at the mercy of corporates.