Union ministers meet farmer leaders in Chandigarh
A delegation of farmer leaders met with three Union ministers in Chandigarh on Monday to discuss their demands related to the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, minimum support price (MSP) and pensions for farmers and farm labourers. The meeting was the second round of talks between the two sides, after the first one on February 8.
The farmer leaders, who are part of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha, said they were not satisfied with the government’s response and would continue their march to Delhi on February 13. They said they wanted a law to guarantee MSP for crops, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, farm debt waiver, withdrawal of police cases and justice for the victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.
The Union ministers who attended the meeting were Piyush Goyal, Arjun Munda and Nityanand Rai. They said they were ready to form a high-level committee to look into the issues and urged the farmer representatives to further consider the proposal. They also said they were open to dialogue and hoped to find a solution through peaceful means.
Tractor-trolleys start from villages to join march
Meanwhile, thousands of farmers from different parts of Punjab have started their journey to Delhi on tractor-trolleys to join the march. They said they were determined to reach the national capital and raise their voice against the government’s policies. They said they were prepared to face any obstacles or restrictions on the way.
The Haryana government has fortified the state’s border with Punjab at many places in Ambala, Jind, Fatehabad and Kurukshetra using concrete blocks, iron nails and barbed wire to prevent the farmers’ march. The government has also imposed restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC in as many as 15 districts, prohibiting the assembly of five or more people and banning any kind of demonstration or march with tractor-trolley.
The farmers, however, said they would not be deterred by the barricades and would break through them if needed. They said they had the support of the people and the civil society and would not resort to any violence or vandalism. They said they were fighting for their rights and livelihoods and would not give up until their demands were met.
Farmers’ protest enters fourth month
The farmers’ protest against the three farm laws passed by the Centre in September last year has entered its fourth month. The farmers have been camping at various border points of Delhi since November 26, demanding the repeal of the laws and a legal guarantee for MSP. They have also held several rounds of talks with the government, but no breakthrough has been achieved so far.
The farmers have alleged that the laws are anti-farmer and pro-corporate and would lead to the loss of their land and income. They have also accused the government of being insensitive and indifferent to their plight. They have said they would not accept any amendments or assurances and would only settle for a complete rollback of the laws.
The government, on the other hand, has maintained that the laws are beneficial and progressive and would usher in a new era of agricultural reforms and growth. The government has said the laws would give the farmers more freedom and choice and would not affect the existing MSP system or the mandi system. The government has also said it has offered to make some changes and clarifications in the laws and has appealed to the farmers to end their agitation and come to the negotiating table.