Protesting farmer unions Monday agreed to a government proposal for holding the next round of discussion on the new farm laws on December 30. However, they insisted the agenda of the meeting should include discussing modalities for repealing the three legislations. Earlier in the day, the Centre had invited 40 protesting union leaders for talks on Wednesday to find a “logical solution” to the current impasse over the farm laws. “The government is also committed to finding a logical solution on all relevant issues with a clear intention and an open mind,” the letter written by Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Aggarwal to the farmer unions said. In the last meeting between the two sides on December 5, farmer leaders had demanded a clear “yes or no” answer from the government on their key demand of the repeal of the three laws.
Will continue to work to strengthen farmers with full force, dedication: PM Modi
Flagging off the 100th Kisan Rail on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the government would continue to work to strengthen farmers with full force and dedication. “Kisan Rail and Krishi Udaan will help farmers to sell their commodities in other states. Kisan Rail has expanded market for farmers,” PM Modi said.
“They can now sell their commodities in those parts of the country where the demand for those specific products is more,” he added. This will empower the farmers by reducing their cost and hence increasing their income, he said. “Kisan Rail is like a moving cold storage facility. Perishable items like fruits, vegetables, milk, fish etc can be safely transported from one place to another in time,” he said.
Congratulating the farmers, Modi also said despite the Covid-19 challenge, Kisan Rail network had expanded in the last four months and got its 100th rail now.
‘Wall of lies’ on farm laws to fall soon, says Narendra Tomar
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar Monday claimed a “wall of lies” had been spread in a “planned manner” among farmers against the new farm laws. However, “it will not last long and the protesting peasants will soon realise the truth”, Tomar said.
The minister reiterated that he was hopeful about an early solution to the impasse. “Soon, some way out will emerge and we will reach towards the solution. Everyone knows that the wall of lies is never strong. Truth is truth. There is going to be a time when people will start accepting the truth,” Tomar said addressing a virtual event organised by Confederation of NGOs of Rural India (CNRI).
Delhi: Leaders of around 25 farmer organisations today met & handed over to Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar a letter in support of the new agriculture laws. pic.twitter.com/deesc2QX3b
— ANI (@ANI) December 28, 2020
Meanwhile, leaders of around 25 farmer organisations on Monday met Tomar and handed over a letter in support of the new agriculture laws.
Separately, addressing representatives of 11 farmer organisations, Tomar said former prime minister Manmohan Singh and the then agriculture minister Sharad Pawar wanted to bring farm reforms during the UPA regime, but could not implement them due to “political pressure”.
Activist Anna Hazare, who has shot off several letters to the central government since the farmers’ protests started near Delhi borders, has reiterated his plan to start an agitation in the capital in January. In a statement issued to the press, Hazare said the problems faced by farmers will not end until they get a justified price for their produce.
“Farmers are forced to commit suicides because they don’t even get the invested money back through farming… Since the Union government has accepted the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, it should accept the estimates sent by the state commissions and decide the Minimum Support Price by adding 50 per cent to the production cost, instead of cutting it down badly. If this is done, then farmers will get a fair price and won’t be compelled to end their lives,” wrote Hazare.
He also recounted the promises made to him by Union agriculture ministers and other representatives of the BJP-led government in the last three years.
Repeal farm laws: OP Chautala appeals to PM Modi
Former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday seeking withdrawal of the Centre’s new farm laws or suspension of those until a consensus was reached with all farmer organisations.
The 85-year-old president of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) said no concrete solution to the issue had been found so far because of the “stubborn” attitude of the government. “This is a sad situation because people of the peasant class generally do not participate in any long stir. If this is happening today then it needs to be viewed sensitively,” he wrote in the letter.
Farmer defies winter chill, protests bare bodied near Delhi border
Fighting the chilling temperature of the national capital, a farmer, Vikas Yadav, has been registering his protest against the agriculture laws at the Singhu border bare bodied with the tricolour painted on him. With slogans written on his arms and face, Yadav from Uttar Pradesh’s Kannauj region said he hoped this would draw the government’s attention towards the agitation. “Nobody is listening to us. We are living on the road, but nobody is paying any attention. Maybe now they will,” PTI quoted Yadav as saying.
After protesting “quietly” for a week while hoping for things to change for better, he got “frustrated” by the government’s “inaction” of the government. He then paid Rs 200 to get his body painted in a show of “farmers’ unity and strength”. “The government has been ignoring us. I came here a week back and nothing has changed. They don’t care if the farmers are out on the road in this cold. They won’t care even if we die,” he said.
Over 1,500 telecom towers damaged in Punjab
More than 1,500 telecom towers in Punjab have been damaged by agitating farmers, disrupting services in some pockets, sources told PTI. Power supply to towers was snapped and cables cut in several parts of the state as the farmers vented their anger on the infrastructure owned by Mukesh Ambani’s firm Jio as they saw him along with industrialist Gautam Adani as major beneficiaries of the new laws.
Neither Ambani’s Reliance group nor Adani companies procure food grains from farmers. “Till yesterday, 1,411 towers were damaged and today the count has gone well past 1,500,” a source with knowledge of the matter said.
(With PTI inputs)
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