Vowing to intensify their agitation from December 14, the heads of all farmer unions protesting against the Centre's new agri laws will observe a one-day hunger strike on Monday. The hunger strike will go on from 8 am to 5 pm, farmer leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni announced on Sunday. Addressing a press conference at Singhu border, where the farmers have been camping for over two weeks, said that leaders will observe the hunger strike at their respective places. "Also dharnas will be staged at all district headquarters across the country. The protest will go on as usual," he told reporters.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a fortnight demanding repeal of the new farm laws. The three farm laws, enacted in September, have been projected by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country. However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of Minimum Support Price and do away with the mandi system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.
Meanwhile, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar met Home Minister Amit Shah amid farmers' protest. The deadlock continues between the central government and protesting farmers on three new farm laws. In its proposal to farmers on Wednesday, the Centre had said it will give a written assurance that the MSP system will remain and also redress their other key concerns. The unions, however, are demanding complete rollback of the central laws and have threatened to intensify their agitation.
FARMERS PLAN TO INTENSIFY AGITATION: 10 POINTS
- Farmer leader Chaduni said the government was hatching a conspiracy to derail the farmers' protest. "There are groups that are ending protest and saying they are in favour of laws passed by the government. We want to clarify that they are not associated with us. They have been hand-in-gloves with the government, they conspired to sabotage our protest. The government is hatching a conspiracy to derail the ongoing farmers' protest," Chaduni said.
- Farmer leader Shiv Kumar Kakka said "government agencies have been stopping farmers from reaching Delhi, but the protest will continue till their demands are met"."Our stand is clear, we want the three farm laws repealed. All farmer unions participating in this movement are together," he said.
- Another farmer leader, Rakesh Tikait, said, "if the government gives another proposal for talks, our committee will decide on it. We appeal to all to maintain peace during protest”.
- Sandeep Gidde, another farmer leader, announced at the press conference that the proposed indefinite hunger strike by farmers from December 19 has been cancelled and it will be a day-long strike on Monday instead.
- Farmers from Rajasthan and some other places on Sunday gathered in large numbers on the Haryana-Rajasthan border near Rewari for their march towards Delhi and sat in protest on side of the Delhi-Jaipur national highway as the Haryana police put up barricades to stop their onward march.
- Meanwhile, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar accused Opposition parties of running a propaganda against the new farm laws and asserted that these legislations "may cause difficulty for some in the short term" but will be beneficial to farmers in the long run. Leading negotiations with the 40 protesting farmer unions to break the deadlock, Tomar met a delegation of over 100 farmers from Uttarakhand on Sunday who came to extend their support to the laws.
- Tomar said the government faced opposition when it revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. It also faced opposition when it brought the amended citizenship law as well as over the Ram temple issue. "When the agricultural reforms were brought, there was opposition to this too...There are some people who just oppose and weaken the country. This has become their nature," the agriculture minister said.
- Tomar said the discussion on agricultural sector reforms has been going on for last many years. "Unfortunately the previous governments who wanted to reform were not able to it. Since they could not try, they did get the credit," he said.
- Tomar stressed that for a new India, reforms are necessary. "When reforms are undertaken it will benefit farmers in the long run. But in the short run, some may face difficulty. We know we can achieve no gain without difficulties," the minister said. (With PTI inputs)