The government on Sunday once again reached out to farmers protesting Centre's new agri reforms. In a letter addressed to farmer unions, the Agriculture Ministry has asked them to apprise the government of their apprehensions over the farm laws and specify a date for the next round of talks in a bid to break the impasse.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting at various border points of Delhi for over four weeks now. The farmer unions on Sunday announced a day-long relay hunger strike on Monday at all protest sites to press for the repeal of the contentious laws. The protesters, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been continuing their sit-in in several border areas of the national capital for the fourth week amid cold wave conditions, despite repeated attempts by the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to convince them about the benefits of the reforms.
Farmer leader Jagjeet Singh Dalewala on Sunday said farmers will halt toll collection on highways in Haryana from December 25 to 27. He also "appealed" to the people to beat "thalis" at their homes during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Mann Ki Baat radio programme on December 27. Another farmer leader Rakesh Tikait said that the protesting farmers will celebrate Kisan Diwas on December 23 and urged people not to cook lunch for a day.
The talks between the farmers and the Centre were stalled on December 9 after five rounds as the farmer unions refused a Centre's proposal to amend the laws and a written assurance on the continuation of minimum support price (MSP).
Enacted in September, the three farm laws 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.
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.
The Centre has repeatedly asserted that MSP and mandi system will stay.