The Samyukta Kisan Morcha has announced to intensify the agitation against the Modi government's three farm laws. Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and west Uttar Pradesh are protesting at Delhi border points since November 26 last year against the three farm laws. They are demanding from the government to repeal the laws and enact a law on the minimum support price.
The protesters have decided to organise 'Rail Roko' across India from 12 pm to 4 pm on February 18. The Morcha, which is spearheading the protest, also said toll collection will not be allowed in Rajasthan from February 12.
“Rail stop programs will be held on February 18... across the country,” farmer leader Darshan Pal said.
On February 14, a candle march and "mashaal juloos" will be held across the country to honour the sacrifice of soldiers martyred in the Pulwama attack, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha said in a press release.
Darshan Pal said that farmers will also will hold events in a show of solidarity on the birth anniversary of Sir Chhotu Ram -- who was one of the most prominent pre-partition farmer leaders -- on February 16.
The announcements by the protesting unions comes on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the government and Parliament have great respect for farmers who are voicing their views on the three farm laws. While making a fresh appeal to agitating farmers to resume talks with the Centre, PM Modi on Wednesday staunchly defended the three farms laws and made it clear that the new system under these laws was not compulsory and only provided more options.
During his over 90-minute speech, most of which was devoted to the farmers' issues, Modi said his government is open to amending the laws if there are any shortcomings, noting that the farmer unions were offered to have a clause by clause discussion on all three Acts to address their apprehensions.
Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at the three Delhi border points --- Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur --- for over 75 days, demanding a complete repeal of the three farm laws and a legal guarantee on minimum support price for their crops.
The laws are -- the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. Farmers are opposing the laws, terming them against their interest as it will dismantle the mandi system and the MSP structure. Besides, they believe that the laws will give power to corporates over their lands.
However, the three laws -- enacted in September 2020, have been projected by the Central government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country. The government has repeatedly assured the farmers that these three laws will not do away with MSP and mandis.