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Farmers protest: No breakthrough in talks with Centre; next meet on Sunday

First Published: 16th February, 2024 9:03 IST

Union Minister Arjun Munda said that the third round of talks with the leaders of the protesting farmers was, however, "positive"

As the third meeting between Union Ministers and the farmer leaders ended in a stalemate, with no common ground in sight, the next round of the talks will take place on Sunday.
After the meeting concluded, Union Minister Arjun Munda said that the third round of talks with the leaders of the protesting farmers was, however, “positive”.

“Today, a very positive discussion happened between the government and the farmers’ unions. Focusing on the topics highlighted by the farmers’ union, we have decided that the next meeting will take place on Sunday at 6 pm… We all will find a solution peacefully…,” Munda said.
The third round of talks between the Union ministers and the 14 farmer union leaders concluded after around five hours.
Union Ministers Piyush Goyal, Arjun Munda, and Minister of State (MoS) for Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai, represented the central government at the meeting.
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann was also present at the meeting.
Previous talks with the representatives of the farm bodies also had turned out to be unfruitful, which spurred the farmers to come up with the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march.
The first meeting between the farmer leaders and the centre took place on February 8, while the second was held on February 12.
Amid the protest, two key border points between Delhi and Haryana remained closed for traffic, while security personnel in anti-riot gear conducted drills and mock exercises to ensure their fool-proof preparation. The Delhi Police has ordered more than 30,000 teargas shells from the Border Security Force’s (BSF) Tear Smoke Unit, officials said.
Meanwhile, the Haryana government has announced the extension of internet shutdown in districts including Ambala, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind, Hisar, Fatehabad and Sirsa tomorrow in view of the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march by the farmers. This is the third time that internet services have been suspended in the state this month, due to the protests.
Earlier on Thursday, Gurnam Singh Charuni, head of Bharatiya Kisan Union, announced on Thursday that they will not pay a toll in Haryana for three hours on Friday, which will be followed by a tractor parade in every Tehsil the next day and a joint meeting of all farmers’ and workers’ organisations on Saturday.
The decision was taken at a meeting of office-bearers of the Bharatiya Kisan Union called by Charuni earlier today.
“Three decisions were taken today: first, we will keep Haryana toll free for 3 hours tomorrow, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.; the day after tomorrow, there will be a tractor parade in every Tehsil, from 12 pm; on February 18, there will be a joint meeting of all farmers’ and labour organisations,” Charuni told reporters.”
Further decisions will be taken in the meeting,” he added.
Charuni has a considerable influence in Haryana. He is not a part of the ongoing protests but the farmers’ leader was a part of the protests back in 2020-21.
Earlier today, protesting farmers from Rajpura in Punjab’s Patiala were sitting on rail tracks and blocking trains at Rajpura Railway Station as part of their protest, which has escalated ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Meanwhile, the Congress has reiterated its take on the ongoing farmers’ protest, stating that it stands firm with the peaceful demonstration of farmers.
“Our leader Rahul Gandhi and also the national president, Mallikarjun Kharge have clearly and categorically said that if Congress comes to power, we’ll give legal status to guarantee the MSP… Congress stands firm with the peaceful protest of farmers…” Dotasara told reporters.
The farmers have put forth 12 demands before the central government for which they’re marching to Delhi. The protest this time has been called by the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha and Punjab Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, led by farmer union leaders Jagjeet Singh Dallewal and Sarwan Singh Pandher.
According to the protesting farmers, the centre promised them better crop prices, after which they ended the 2021 protest. They are demanding to enact a law guaranteeing a minimum support price (MSP) for all crops, as recommended by the Swaminathan Commission report.
They are also demanding a complete debt waiver and a scheme to provide pensions to farmers and farm labourers.
The farmers have also urged to scrap the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020 and are demanding to reintroduce the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, ensuring consent from farmers and compensation at four times the collector rate.
Further, they are demanding to punish those involved in the Lakhimpur Kheri killings.
An appeal to provide 200 days of employment per year and a daily wage of Rs 700 under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (MGNREGA), linking it with farming, has also been made by the farmers. Also, they have demanded compensation to the families of farmers who died during the protests in 2021 and a job for any family member.
In 2020, farmers protested against three laws at Delhi borders, after which they were repealed by the centre in 2021.
These laws were The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act. (ANI)

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