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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Govt headed towards a pact: Tikait; SKM forms 5-member panel

🔴 The SKM said it unanimously decided at its meeting Saturday that the farm agitation will continue until formal and satisfactory responses are received from the Centre.

Written by Pavneet Singh Chadha , Raakhi Jagga | Gurgaon |
Updated: December 5, 2021 7:20:14 am
BKU leader Rakesh Tikait addresses a press conference at Singhu border on Saturday. (Express photo by Gajendra Yadav)

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, spearheading the farmer protests at the borders of Delhi for more than a year now, has formed a five-member committee which will discuss the “pending demands” with the Central government following the repeal of the three farms laws.

The SKM said it unanimously decided at its meeting Saturday that the farm agitation will continue until formal and satisfactory responses are received from the Centre.

BKU leader Rakesh Tikait told media persons that the committee was a “medium” to have a dialogue with the government. “The government had been asking… through the media… to nominate five members for a small committee to have discussions. Sarkar ek samjhaute ki taraf ja rahi hai (The government is headed towards an agreement). Yesterday, discussions took place with the Haryana CM and his message was that talks should continue. The committee will now hold talks with the government.”

A PTI report from Gwalior quoted Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar saying farmers should end their stir and return home. “I think no issue is left now and farmer brothers should end their agitation and get engaged in their routine work,” he told reporters.

After a meeting of 32 farmer unions at the Singhu border, the SKM emphasised that the names were not for the MSP committee as sought by the government, but to discuss all “pending demands” mentioned in its letter to the Prime Minister.

The five-member committee comprising farm leaders Ashok Dhawale (Maharashtra), Balbir Singh Rajewal (Punjab), Gurnam Singh Chaduni (Haryana), Shiv Kumar Kakkaji (Madhya Pradesh) and Yudhvir Singh (Uttar Pradesh) will negotiate with the government to resolve these pending issues, the SKM said.

These demands, it said, include legal entitlement to remunerative MSP for agricultural produce; withdrawal of Electricity Amendment Bill 2020/2021; deletion of section 15 in the law related to setting up of a commission for Delhi Air Quality regulation; withdrawal of cases against the protesting farmers and supporters in Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chandigarh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan; rehabilitation of the kin of 708 farmers who died in the course of the protests and allotment of land for their memorial; and the sacking of Union Minister of State Ajay Mishra Teni in connection with the Lakhimpur Kheri case.

The farm leaders said the next meeting will be held on December 7, adding that the next two days have been reserved for the government to respond to the SKM and “work along with its five-member committee to resolve the agitation to its logical conclusion”.

BKU leader Rakesh Tikait speaks with reporters on Saturday. (Express Photo: Gajendra Yadav)

Shiv Kumar Kakkaji said that on November 21, SKM had written a letter to the PM, mentioning all pending demands, but they were yet to receive anything in writing from the government.

“Till all the cases that have been filed against the farmers and supporters are withdrawn and all pending demands are met, the agitation will continue. Our senior leaders are in talks regarding MSP guarantee law. It is quite unfortunate that the Agriculture Minister has said that the government does not have any record of farmers who died during the protests. I want to remind that NCRB maintains extensive records… at least 150 post-mortems of these deaths took place here at Singhu,” he said.

Joginder Singh Ugrahan, state president, Bhartiya Kisan Union, Ekta Ugrahan, told media persons that discussions were held on several issues including the future course of the agitation.

“There was discussion on the issues of MSP, electricity bill and stubble burning fines, compensation for farmers who have died, withdrawal of cases against farmers… There has been no final decision from the government on these issues. Till we don’t have anything in written from the government… till cases are withdrawn, we will not go back,” he said.

Yudhvir Singh told The Indian Express: “Over the next two days, the committee will hold discussions with the government. The MSP committee will be different from this one. In the meeting with the Haryana CM yesterday, an agreement had been reached regarding withdrawal of cases but talks were inconclusive on other demands.”

Ashok Dhawale said that in the meeting, the discussion was mainly around the pending demands which the farmers had been raising from the first day of the agitation.

“There was a detailed discussion regarding withdrawal of thousands of police cases that have been filed against farmers in the country… In Haryana alone, 48,000 cases have been registered. Similarly, false cases have been filed in UP, MP… on January 26 in Delhi… in Lakhimpur Kheri,” he said.

Dhawle clarified that the committee will only discuss the pending demands and not the legal guarantee for MSP. He said they have given two days to the government to withdraw the cases filed against farmers in course of the agitation. “Written instructions should be sent to all states from the Union Home Ministry”.

“In Haryana alone, 45,000 farmers have been booked under various charges. A few have been booked for serious offences such as attempt to murder, murder,” added Harmeet Singh Kadian, president BKU Kadian, Punjab.

It was learnt that during the meeting, there were differences between Punjab and Haryana farmer unions over compensation for the family of every farmer who died during the agitation. While Haryana unions said they should demand Rs 9 lakh per farmer, Punjab unions want Rs 5 lakh.

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