All the protesting farm outfits barring one have have decided to attend the meeting with a two-member ministerial delegation in Delhi on Friday but have asserted that they would not accept any decision short of scrapping of the three farm laws against which they are agitating.
Union Agriculture secretary Sudhansu Pandey had on November 10 invited the farmer organisations for a meeting with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal. It was the third time Centre extended an invitation to the protesting farmers for dialogue.
“We have unanimously decided that we will go (to Delhi on Friday) and hold talks. We will demand that these three laws be repealed. We will tell them why these laws are wrong,” Bharatiya Kisan Union (Kadiyan) president Harmeet Singh Kadian said.
The decision was taken by representatives of the farmers’ outfits at a meeting here. They also deputed three leaders including Krantikari Kisan Union president Dr Darshan Pal, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) president Balbir Singh Rajewalm and Jamhoori Kisna Sabha general secretary Kulwant Singh Sandhu to hold talks with the Union ministers.
Addressing media after the five-hour meeting, Kadian said it was decided that they will hold peaceful talks in the maiden meeting with Union ministers. “Farmers have never shied away from a dialogue. We are ready. But we have been agitating against the farm laws for last 49 days. Hence, we will not accept anything less than withdrawal of these laws,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee president Satnam Singh Pannu said they would not participate in any meeting with Centre unless the rail traffic was restored in Punjab.
Kadian too said that protesting farmers had already lifted their blockades from rail tracks and vacated platforms and questioned the Centre for not allowing freight train movement.
Asked about Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s appeal of allowing passenger trains as well, Kadiyan asked who would fight the battle if the agitation was continuously relaxed. “We went one step back so the government takes one step forward, but it did not do so,” he said.
He said farmers were facing a shortage of urea for crop sowing because of non-operation of trains.
Train services in Punjab have been suspended since September 24, when farmers started their “rail roko” agitation against the central laws. Though goods trains were allowed, passenger trains were not. The Railways has refused to resume goods train services in Punjab, saying it would either operate both freight and passenger trains or none at all.
Kadian said the farmers’ organisations will again meet on November 18 to plan the further course of action. He said farmers from across the nation would reach Delhi on November 26 and 27. “If they are stopped in any part, then we would lay a siege to the roads,” he said.
A “Delhi Chalo” protest call has been sounded by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), a body of more than 200 farmers’ organisations across the country.
Kadian said the farmer would lead a torch protest on Diwali to register their opposition to the farm laws.
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