- Centre has to come forward with concrete proposals: Farmer leader
- PM Modi claimed that opposition is "instigating" and "misleading" farmers
- There have been five rounds of meetings between farmers and the Centre
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"The government is saying 'we won't repeal these laws'. We are saying we will make you do it. The fight has reached a stage where we are determined to win no matter what," farmer leader Jagjeet Dallewal told journalists at Singhu border on Tuesday. "We are not running away from negotiation, but the government has to pay heed to our demands and come forward with concrete proposals," he added. Arrangements are also being made for women protestors who are coming in huge numbers, he added.
"The agriculture reforms that have taken place are exactly what farmer bodies and even opposition parties have been asking over the years," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday, reiterating the government's claim that the opposition is now "instigating" and "misleading" the farmers.
"A sense of fear is being injected into their (farmers') minds. Farmers are told that their land will be grabbed by others if the new farm laws get implemented," PM Modi said. "I am confident that progressive farmers will defeat those who are doing politics, spreading falsehood and using farmers'' shoulders to fire their guns," he added.
A faction of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Kisan) met Union Agriculture minister Narendra Tomar on Tuesday and later said it is suspending its agitation for a month. "We have placed a demand before the minister that a new law should be enacted on the Minimum Support price," the group's chief Pawan Thakkar told NDTV. The group has influence over farmers in 10 to 12 districts of Uttar Pradesh.
The farmer leaders at Singhu border brushed off the growing trend of small farmers' groups pulling out of the agitation after talks with the agriculture minister. "Ours is a historic agitation and we have a unified leadership. We have so much people's support that they couldn't break our unity," said a farmer leader.
A farmer leader from Maharashtra, Rishipal, claimed one farmer has died every day on an average since the protest started in the last week of November. "A Homage Day (Shraddhanjali Diwas) for all the farmers who lost their lives and became martyrs in the ongoing protest will be organised across the country in villages and tehsil headquarters on December 20 from 11 am to 1 pm," he said.
Five meetings have taken place between the protesting farmers and agriculture minister Narendra Tomar. Union home minister Amit Shah also met the farmers once, but the deadlock has persisted with both sides sticking to their stance. The protesters have given a written reply to Centre's proposal for amendments to the farm laws. "We had already put our basics verbally... We want the government to stop defaming the farmers' movement and stop parallel talks with other farmer organisations," the farmers wrote.
The Supreme Court will hear a series of petitions on the farmers' protests on Wednesday. One petition wants the protesters to be removed to a designated place in view of the coronavirus outbreak. Another seeks the court's direction to the Centre to consider the farmers' demands. It also wants the National Human Rights Commission to investigate if there was any any police assault on the farmers. A third petition wants the top court to allow the farmers enter Delhi and protest at Jantar Mantar.
Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Badal has dubbed the Central government the "real tukde tukde gang" and accused it of setting Hindus against Sikhs in Punjab to control the farmers' protest. "Today it is against farmers. Nobody knows what the BJP might say even about soldiers tomorrow if it suits them. The farmers are hurt and angry against the BJP," he alleged.
Tens of thousands of farmers are holding protest at the borders of Delhi 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 to be exploited by 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.