New Delhi: As the protests demanding the repeal of three new farm laws entered the 31st day, the protesting farmer unions on Saturday decided to resume talks with the government. They have proposed December 29 as the date for the next round of negotiations with the government and sent the draft of the issues to be discussed. These include repeal of the three farm laws, making Minimum Support Price a legal guarantee and changes in the draft Electricity Amendment Bill to safeguard the interests of the farmers.
The decision to resume talks was taken at a meeting of Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 40 farmer unions protesting at various Delhi border points against three farm laws. Rakesh Tikait, a senior leader of Bharatiya Kisan Union, however, said the modalities for the repeal of three farm laws and guarantee for MSP (minimum support price at which the government procures crops from farmers) should be part of the agenda for talks with the government. "We have decided to hold talks with the government on December 29," he said.
The announcement for fresh discussions between farmers' representatives and the government comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi lashed out at the opposition for the first time since the beginning of the protests. On Friday he stressed that farmers' lands won't be taken away, adding that "some people are spreading lies". The Prime Minister also released a financial aid of Rs 18,000 crore under the PM-Kisan cash transfer scheme.
Five rounds of talks between the government and farmers have failed in the last couple of weeks.
The government has been repeating its stand that the new farm laws will only benefit the farmers. Several senior ministers have said that farmers should have faith in the government and if at any stage the laws cause hindrance to the farmers, the government will not hesitate to rethink these.
Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that during Dr Manmohan Singh's government in 2013-14, the farmers were paid Rs 1,310 for a quintal of paddy but now they are being paid Rs 1,815 per quintal.
Carrying ration and other essential items with them, several batches of farmers from Punjab headed towards Delhi borders to join the peasants protesting against the Centre's new agriculture-related laws.
According to farmer union leaders, peasants from various places including Sangrur, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur and Bathinda districts were headed towards Singhu and Tikri borders. They began their journey despite fog and biting cold wave conditions in many parts of Punjab. Tractor trollies, cars and other vehicles carrying farmers, including elderly and women, were seen on the Amritsar-Delhi national highway. The road from Delhi to Ghaziabad near the Ghazipur border was also closed as the farmer protest spilt over to the other carriageway.
Kisan Union leader Dr Darshanpal said on Saturday that the farmers will celebrate the martyrdom of Guru Govind Singh's son on December 27 and December 28. The protesters will then meet the Centre for the next round of talks on December 29.
On December 30, farmers will march from Singhu to Tikri and Shahjahanpur alongside their tractors, Dr Darshanpal added. He went on to say that the farmers are inviting everyone to have langar with them on December 31 and January 1 at Singhu border....