Even as the Centre began setting the stage for the Union Cabinet to approve on Wednesday the draft of Bills needed to repeal the three agricultural laws, the farm unions wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi listing their remaining demands, especially a legal mandate for MSP, and said they would continue to protest until all issues were resolved.
“The Cabinet is likely to take up on Wednesday the withdrawal of the three farm laws for approval. The Bills for withdrawal of the laws shall then be introduced in the forthcoming Parliament session,” sources said.
Meanwhile, Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) held a press conference at the protest site at Delhi’s Singhu border, and said that farm unions would continue with various protest events as per schedule, and that a key meeting would be held on November 27.
“The next meeting will take place on November 27 to review developments, if any,” the SKM said. The meeting will also chart further course of action, leaders said.
The unions will also celebrate Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Diwas to mark Sir Chhotu Ram’s birth anniversary on November 24, farm leaders said.
Two days later, they will hold a ‘Dilli Border Morche Par Chalo’ with tractor rallies across states to mark one year since the first set of farmers arrived from Punjab and Haryana at Singhu. From November 29, the SKM is planning to send a set of 500 protesters each day to Parliament in tractors to protest during the Winter Session.
“We have written an open letter to the Prime Minister. We will emphasise on several issues, including a legal mandate for MSP. The details of the committee being formed on MSP have been discussed in the letter. The Electricity Amendment Bill is a key point in the letter. The Lakhimpur Kheri incident and our demands of action against the Union Minister (Union MoS Ajay Mishra) have been mentioned as well,” said Balbir Singh Rajewal of BKU Rajewal.
In the letter, released late Sunday, the SKM stated that they were “disappointed” due to lack of “concrete” announcements on their remaining demands. It also sought a memorial for the “more than 700 farmers” who had died during the protests.
The letter sought the immediate withdrawal of action against farm protesters who “have been implicated in hundreds of cases during this movement (June 2020 till date) in Delhi, Haryana, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh and several other states”.
“We noted that after 11 rounds of talks, you chose the path of unilateral declaration rather than a bilateral solution; nonetheless, we are glad that you have announced the decision to withdraw all three farm laws. We welcome this announcement and hope that your Government will fulfill this promise at the earliest and in full,” said the letter.
Raising their key demand on MSP, the SKM’s letter said: “Minimum Support Price based on the comprehensive cost of production (C2+50%) should be made a legal entitlement of all farmers for all agricultural produce, so that every farmer of the country can be guaranteed at least the MSP announced by the government for their entire crop.”
Apart from the electricity Bill and the demand for scrapping any penal action against farmers on air pollution, the letter referred to the Lakhimpur Kheri incident in UP on October 3, when four protesters were killed after being hit by a convoy of three vehicles, including one owned by MoS Mishra.
“Ajay Mishra Teni, the mastermind of Lakhimpur Kheri murder case and accused of section 120B, is still roaming freely and remains a Minister in your cabinet. He is also sharing the stage with you and other senior ministers. He should be sacked and arrested,” it said.
“During this movement, so far about 700 farmers have given their lives to the cause, as their supreme sacrifice. There should be compensation and rehabilitation support for their families. To build a martyrs’ memorial in the memory of the martyr farmers, land should be given at Singhu Border,” it said.
“Prime Minister, you have appealed to the farmers that now we should go back home. We want to assure you that we are not fond of sitting on the streets. We too desire that after resolving these other issues as soon as possible, we return to our homes, families and farming. If you want the same, then the government should immediately resume talks with the Samyukta Kisan Morcha on the above six issues,” the letter said.
At the protest site at Singhu, several protesters spoke about a “fresh wave of energy” in their ranks. “The completion of one year is a huge moment for us. If the government still tries to delay the repeal, we will stay here for another year. In the mean time, we are making preparations for different events that will take place in the coming days,” said Gurinder Singh, a protester from Jalandhar.
Last Friday, Prime Minister Modi announced his decision to repeal the three farm laws: Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The Indian Express reported on Sunday that the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution — the two ministries in charge of administering the three laws — have begun the process of drafting the repeal Bills.