Thousands of farmers continued to camp at Delhi's Singhu border against the Centre's agriculture reform laws on Wednesday. Blocking key entrances to the city for the seventh day on the trot, farmers vowed to intensify the stir if the contentious farm bills were not repealed by the government on December 3, a day when the next round of talks is scheduled to be held.
At a press conference on Wednesday, farmer leaders called for burning effigies throughout the country on December 5 as a mark of protest against the government's three farm laws.
"We call for burning of effigies throughout the country to protest against Modi government and corporate houses on December 5," Darshan Pal, President of the Krantikari Kisan Union said. He appealed the government to call a special parliament session to strike down the farm laws.
"We'll burn effigies in every district of Maharashtra tomorrow and on December 5 in Gujarat to protest against Centre. Tomorrow is the last chance for the government to take a decision to repeal the laws, otherwise the movement will become huge and government will fall," Pratibha Shinde of the Lok Sangharsh Morcha said.
Meanwhile, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar reiterated that the laws were in the farmers' interest but the government was ready to address their concerns. "We will hold discussions with farmer leaders tomorrow. Let's see to what extent issues can be resolved. I appeal to the farmers that the laws are in their interest and the reforms have been done after a long wait, but if they have any objection to it then we are ready to address their concerns," Tomar said.
Among the five border points blocked are Singhu, the main access point for those entering Delhi from Punjab, Tikri, Ghazipur and Chilla. The protest at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border in Ghazipur intensified, leading to the closure of a key route connecting the national capital with Uttar Pradesh.
At the Chilla Border, which connects Delhi with Noida, more farmers from Firozabad, Meerut, Noida and Etawah started gathering, prompting the authorities to close the key road stretch for the second consecutive day.
According to farmer unions, the three new laws will lead to the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving farmers at the mercy of corporate houses. The government, however, has said that the MSP system will continue and the new laws will give farmers more options to sell their crop.
Farm leaders met Union ministers on Tuesday, but the two sides failed to break the deadlock.