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Parliament repeals agri laws: Punjab unions hail historic day, but want Centre answer on other demands

In Delhi, the SKM, of which the 32 farmers unions of Punjab are part of, urged the Centre to decide on their other demands, including legal guarantee of minimum support price for crops, in the session on Tuesday.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
November 30, 2021 9:11:35 am
Women take part a meeting at Singhu border to mark the completion of one year of farmers' agitation, in New Delhi, Friday, Nov 26, 2021. (PTI Photo/Kamal Kishore)

As Parliament approved the repeal of the three contentious farm laws Monday, the 32 farmer unions of Punjab called it “a historic day” and declared “victory of the most peaceful struggle”, but added that the Centre has time till Tuesday to reply on other demands, including legal guarantee for MSP, and said an emergency meeting of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha on December 1 will decide their future course of action.

Assi morcha jit laya hai (we have won this agitation). It is time to celebrate now. People used to say that Modi hai to mumkin hai, but no one is above people’s power. Our patience won over the diktat of Union government. You have to bend before lok lehar, no matter how many seats you have won to form a government,” said Buta Singh Burjgill, president BKU (Dakaunda).

Parliament passed the bill to repeal the laws, which had led to protests by farmers for over a year, with the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha passing it by voice vote within minutes of its introduction and without any discussion on the first day of the Winter Session amid protests by Opposition members who demanded a discussion on MSP and compensation to families of farmers who died during the agitation.

In Delhi, the SKM, of which the 32 farmers unions of Punjab are part of, urged the Centre to decide on their other demands, including legal guarantee of minimum support price for crops, in the session on Tuesday.

“This is a victory for us and a historic day. We want withdrawal of cases against the farmers. We want a committee to be formed on the legal guarantee of minimum support price for crops. The Centre has time till tomorrow (Tuesday) to reply to our demands. We have called an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the future course of action,” the SKM said in a statement.

The SKM said important demands are still pending. “History was made when the anti-farmer laws got repealed. However, the development was marred by the fact that there was no debate allowed on the Bill tabled to repeal the three laws,” it said.

Sources hinted that if the government expressed its intention or gave guarantee to consider the farmers’ remaining demands, the agitation at the Delhi borders might be called off.

Harmeet Singh Kadian, president BKU (Kadian), while talking to The Indian Express, termed the year-long agitation as “the biggest aandolan (movement)” after Independence. “It can be marked as the most peaceful struggle ever. It is our victory, but a decisive announcement will be made at the SKM meeting,” said Harmeet Singh.

He added, “Our other demands — repeal of Electricity Amendment Bill 2020, cancellation of FIRs against protesters, and suspension of Ajay Mishra from Union Cabinet — are pending. The most important demand is MSP as legal guarantee”.

While sources said that the 32 farm unions of Punjab have made a decision about whether to continue the agitation at the Delhi borders or return back, Kadian refused to reveal the details.

He said, “We will put our views before the SKM. We hope that our other issues will be resolved by then”.

Manjit Singh Rai, president of Doaba Kisan Union, has already said that major demands have been met and the agitation should be lifted. Rai has argued that for the remaining demands, farmers can continue their struggle in their respective states.

“We had not expected that both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will approve the repeal of the farm laws in a day. Now, for cancellation of FIRs, Home Ministry only needs to issue directions to the states. A chargesheet has been filed only in case pertaining to the (January 26) Red Fort incident while the rest are mere FIRs in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh,” said Prem Singh Bhangu, president of the All India Kisan Mahasabha, Punjab.

Joginder Singh Ugrahan, president of BKU (Ugrahan) said, “It is victory of people’s struggle that black laws have been repealed. We thank each every person who contributed in the struggle. However, our struggle will continue till the time clarity is not given on the rest of the demands.”

Sarwan Singh Pandher, general secretary of Kisan Mazdoor Sangrash Committee (KMSC), added, “Morcha will continue for the time being. Over 700 farmers have died. The PM didn’t utter even a word in Parliament about them. We want due compensation for them and a place for their memorial as well at the borders.”

Sources reiterated that within the Punjab unions, there was positive mood over lifting the dharna.

Punjab unions also stated that remaining apolitical was their biggest strength behind winning this morcha. They added that they have no plans to jump into politics.

Meanwhile, celebrations broke out at protest sites at three borders of Delhi – Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri – as farmers danced to the tunes of Bhangra and Punjabi songs. At Singhu, the protesters showered flower petals at each other to celebrate the “victory of the movement”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on November 19 announced that the three farm legislations would be repealed.

On November 21, the SKM had written to the prime minister to immediately resume talks on the farmers’ six demands, including legal guarantee for procurement of crops at MSP.

“Investments for an MSP guarantee law are very much within the practical power of the Union Government, and will come back as revenues as soon as rural economy receives a boost from such a law. On another demand related to withdrawal of cases filed against protesting farmers, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar indicated that he will do as per the Centre’s instructions. This vindicates what SKM has been saying,” the SKM statement said on Monday.

It said with regard to such cases filed in Delhi and Chandigarh, the Centre has a direct say.

“While in the BJP-ruled states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh where many cases have been filed, the Union Government’s decision is awaited,” the statement added.

— With PTI

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