Ahead of their meeting with the Centre on Monday, protesting farmer unions announced they would celebrate Lohri on January 13 by “burning” the copies of the new farm laws if their demands were not met. Addressing a press conference at the Singhu border on Sunday, the farmers reiterated that they would not go back until the three contentious farm laws were repealed.
“We will celebrate Lohri on January 13 by burning the copies of the farm laws. We will celebrate Kisan Diwas on January 23, on the occasion of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s birth anniversary,” ANI quoted farmers’ leader Manjeet Singh Rai as saying.
Another leader Onkar Singh urged the government to shun its “stubbornness”. “Today is 37th day of our protest, the govt should leave its stubbornness. We won’t go back till laws are taken back. It’s disappointing that farmers are losing their lives. So many farmers are braving the cold yet the govt is not taking it seriously,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
Braving the cold, thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, are protesting at various borders of the national capital for more than a month. Farmers’ leader Harmeet Singh Kadian said, “It’s been raining, so we are trying to get waterproof tents although they are not up to government standard. We are trying to arrange blankets and warm water for women and the elderly.”
A day before the crucial seventh round of talks between the Centre and protesting farmer unions, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar met Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday and discussed the government strategy to resolve the current crisis at the earliest, PTI reported. Tomar discussed with Singh “all possible options” to find a “middle path” to resolve the crisis.
The Samyukt Kisan Union, the umbrella body of farmer unions camping at the gates of Delhi to press their demands, told the media on Saturday that if all their demands were not met by January 26 – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations this year – the farmers shall “peacefully and non-violently” lead a tractor parade into Delhi and across the country.
“If by January 26, the demands are not met by the government, then farmers protesting at Delhi’s borders shall peacefully and non-violently lead a trolley/tractor parade into Delhi. These marches shall also be held in all state and district capitals,” BKU (Sidhupur) president Darshanpal had said.
At their last meeting on December 30, the Centre agreed to “decriminalise” stubble burning by excluding farmers from the ambit of the ‘Commission for the Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance 2020’, and drop those provisions of the draft Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020, which intend to change the existing mode of subsidy payment to consumers.
The government and farmer unions are scheduled to meet again on January 4 to decide on demands to repeal the three newly enacted farm laws and provision of legal guarantee on the minimum support price for procurement — farmer unions are pressing for the enactment of a central MSP Act, covering 23 crops grown in the country.
Every farmer-labourer part of movement a ‘satyagrahi’, they will take back their rights: Rahul Gandhi
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday compared the ongoing farmers’ protests against the three new Central agriculture-related laws with the Champaran agitation during the British rule, and said every farmer-labourer part of the current movement is a ‘satyagrahi’ and they will take their rights back.
“The country is going to face a Champaran-like tragedy. British were ‘company Bahadur’ back then and now Modi-friends are ‘company Bahadur’,” Gandhi alleged in a tweet in Hindi.
“But, every farmer-labourer of the movement is a ‘satyagrahi’ who will take back their rights,” the former Congress chief said.
Three more protesting farmers die
Three more farmers, who were part of the protests at the Delhi borders against the Centre’s new farm laws, have died, police said on Sunday. One of the farmers died of cardiac arrest, another was suffering from fever while the cause of the death of the third farmer could only be ascertained after post-mortem, PTI reported.
The deceased were identified as Shamsher Singh (around 45 years of age), a resident of Lidhra village in Punjab’s Sangrur district, Jashandeep Singh (18), a resident of Chauke village in Punjab’s Bathinda district, and Jagbir Singh (60), a resident of Jind in Haryana, the police said.
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