Punjab farmers harden stance, call for Bharat bandh on December 8

By: |
December 5, 2020 7:15 AM

This increased the chances of the deadlock continuing for a while, unless the government makes the major concession of either making MSP a statutory right of farmers or abrogating the new pieces of legislation.

The farmer organisations said that nothing less than repeal of these laws would be acceptable to them.It is the duty of each citizen to support the farmers. said Raut.

About 40-odd farmers organisations, which met here on Friday to hammer out a joint strategy ahead of the
Saturday’s fifth round of talks with the government over the three controversial agriculture Acts, resolved that they won’t budge from their stated position. The farmer organisations said that nothing less than repeal of these laws would be acceptable to them.

This increased the chances of the deadlock continuing for a while, unless the government makes the major concession of either making MSP a statutory right of farmers or abrogating the new pieces of legislation.

The farmers also called for Bharat Bandh on December 8 to press their case, a move that displayed their stomach for a protracted stand-off with the government, if need be. The government had, on Thursday, agreed to make a clutch of significant amendments to the Acts, to address the farmers’ concerns.

The hard-line stand taken by farmers organisations on Friday was the result of the young cadres being insistent on not agreeing to anything less than repeal of the laws, sources said. Agriculture ministry officials, who were present at Thursday’s seven-hour meeting with farmer unions, are still hopeful of finding an amicable solution. “We are hopeful that farmers will accept the offers of the government on Saturday and agree to end the protest,” an official told FE.

Parleys continued throughout the day among farmer leaders, first among 30 organisations of Punjab and later among organisations of all the states. Speaking after the meeting, Yudhveer Singh, general secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), said: “Earlier the government was portraying the protest as Punjab-centric. So, we have decided to call for Bharat Bandh. We also appeal all farmers to join the protest in Delhi.”

Another farmer leader Hanan Mollah, a former MP, claimed that many more organisations are joining the movement everyday and holding protest in their own districts across the country.

However, there are senior farmer leaders who want the process of dialogue to continue. “Talks will continue as this is the only way to resolve issues. The government should also show maturity,” said Shiv Kumar Sharma, president of Rashtriya Kisan Mahashangha.

Signalling its willingness to concede some ground to resolve the stand-off with agitating farmers from Punjab and Haryana over the three recently enacted agriculture laws, the Centre offered to make changes in one of the farm Acts in order to make registration compulsory for purchase of farm produce from outside the APMC mandis. While this is intended to provide the government an oversight over such purchases, it is believed that farmers may also be given the facility to move courts for dispute resolution.

Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar had said: “We have assured them (farmer groups) that the APMC mandis would not be closed down; rather the government would work to strengthen APMC mandis. We will also consider providing a level playing field on market fees for trading inside and outside mandis. Another demand was to allow farmers to move courts for dispute resolution which we will consider too.”

Currently, anyone with PAN cards can purchase farm goods outside the APMC networks and SDM/district collector is the adjudicating authority over disputes. Meanwhile, hundreds of students, womens’ rights leaders, industrial workers and intellectuals of Delhi rallied at Jantar Mantar on Friday to protest against the “attitude” of the government on the farmers’ demands, said All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC).

There is no space absolutely for any discussion on MSP as farmers interest can be safeguarded only when MSP is given at the Swaminathan formula of 1.5 times of C2 cost and there is guaranteed environment of purchase of crops from all farmers, it said in a statement.

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