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Monday, January 25, 2021

Farmers’ Protest HIGHLIGHTS: Sixth round of talks with farmers ends; Tomar says consensus on 2 out of 4 issues

After the talks, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said he requested the farmer leaders to send home the elderly, women and children.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 31, 2020 1:12:11 pm
Bharatiya Kisan Union Spokesperson Rakesh Tikait (C) along with farmers leaders during a meeting with Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar (unseen) and Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal (unseen) over the new farm laws, at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. (PTI Photo)

The sixth round of talks between the Centre and protesting farmer unions has concluded. While a consensus was reached on issues related to environment and Electricity Act, talks will continue between the two sides as farmer leaders kept insisting on the repeal of the three farm laws and legal guarantee for MSP. The next round of talks will be held on January 4.

This was the sixth round of talks after a three-week hiatus. After the talks, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said he requested the farmer leaders to send home the elderly, women and children. Discussing the two issues on which consensus was reached between the farmers and government, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, “First issue was an ordinance related to the environment. Unions were apprehensive about farmers being included along with Parali ones. Both sides agreed to farmers’ exclusion.”

Union minister Som Prakash — who has been part of the government’s three-member team for negotiations with the farmers — said, “Today’s meeting with farmers will be decisive”. “We want them to celebrate New Year at their homes, with their family and we are going into the meeting with an open heart and mind. The government will try to resolve the issue so that people can go back to their homes,” Som Prakash was quoted as saying by news agency ANI. Centre has reaffirmed that it has no intention of scrapping the minimum support price (MSP) regime, with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh stressing that no “ma ka lal (no one)” can take away land from the farmers.

But in its letter on Tuesday, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella organisation which represents the farmer unions, said the modalities for repealing the three contentious laws and a legal guarantee on minimum support price (MSP) must be part of the agenda. The Morcha further said the agenda should also include amendments to be made and notified in the Commission for the Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance, 2020 to exclude farmers from its penal provisions.

Live Blog

Sixth round of Centre-farmers end. Read highlights on from 'Dilli Chalo' march

21:12 (IST)30 Dec 2020
Jio seeks Punjab CM's intervention to safeguard telecom infra, urges action against miscreants

With its telecom infrastructure in the state being damaged during farmers' protest, Reliance Jio has written to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh seeking his intervention for action against those responsible for the incidents of "sabotage and vandalism".

In a letter to the chief minister, Jio flagged the acts of sabotage and vandalism at its network sites "by unknown persons in the disguise of ongoing farmers agitation".

It alleged that the damage being inflicted is "deliberate" in nature with "ulterior motives and clear intent" of causing maximum disruption to the company's infrastructure and services.

"We humbly request for your kind intervention by a direction from your good office to the district administration to take action against the miscreants who caused this damage, and prevention of any further damage as apart from losses to the infrastructure, people of Punjab are suffering because their life is getting impacted severely in carrying out their day to day activity, education, business, study etc," Jio said in the letter to the chief minister on December 27. (PTI)

20:22 (IST)30 Dec 2020
Govt agreed to exclude farmers from fine over stubble burning: Farmer leader

"There's still a deadlock over 3 farm laws being scrapped. We couldn't reach a consensus with them on MSP. On the issue of stubble burning, govt agreed to exclude farmers from fine. On electricity issue, govt has taken back Power Bill 2020," Krantikari Kisan Union President Darshan Pal tells ANI.

19:43 (IST)30 Dec 2020
Consensus reached on two issues with farmers: Tomar

Discussing the two issues on which consenus was reached between the farmers and government, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, "First issue was an ordinance related to the environment. Unions were apprehensive about farmers being included along with Parali ones. Both sides agreed to farmers' exclusion."

"Farmers feel that if reform is introduced in the Electricity Act, they'll suffer loss. Unions wanted the electricity subsidy given to farmers by states for irrigation should continue. The consensus was reached on this issue also," he added.

"Today's talks mostly on electricity, stubble burning. Next meet to focus on MSP guarantee, three farm laws," Union leader Kalwant Singh Sandhu said.

19:40 (IST)30 Dec 2020
Requested the farmers to send elderly home: Tomar

After the sixth round of talks with farmer unions over the new agri laws, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said he requested the farmer leaders to send home the elderly, women and children. The next round of talks will be held on January 4, he said.

19:32 (IST)30 Dec 2020
Sixth round of talks with farmers ends; Tomar says consensus on 2 out of 4 issues

The sixth round of talks between the Centre and protesting farmer unions has concluded. After the meeting, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, "Today's talks were held in a very good environment and it concluded on a positive note. Consensus on two out of four issues was reached between both sides."

19:06 (IST)30 Dec 2020
Farmers don't trust PM Modi: Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday alleged that farmers do not trust Prime Minister Narendra Modi due to his long history of "asatyagraha" and shared an online survey asking people why the PM was not repealing the farm laws.

"'15 lakh in every bank account and 2 crore jobs every year', 'Give me 50 days time, else...', 'We will win war against corona in 21 days', 'Neither has anyone intruded into our territory nor took over any post'. Farmers don't trust Modi ji due to his long history of 'asatyagraha'," he said in a tweet.

The former Congress president also shared the online survey, asking, "Mr Modi is refusing to repeal the anti-farmer laws because he is:" and gave the options "anti-farmer", "run by crony capitalists", "arrogant" or "all of the above".

18:19 (IST)30 Dec 2020
Govt wants all farmers get MSP benefit: Yogi Adityanath

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday said his government intended that all farmers get the MSP benefit, for which directives have been issued to ensure proper functioning of paddy procurement centres in the state.

According to a press release, the chief minister directed that farmers' produce be procured without any delay and, if required, additional arrangements should be made for it.

The CM stressed that the intention of his government is to ensure that farmers get all benefits of the MSP, the release said.

The chief minister, who was reviewing works of different departments, said the state government is committed to betterment of the rural economy through dairies, for which more "dugdh samitis" should be set up and villagers be connected with dairy programmes by forming self-help groups.

He asked chief veterinary officers to regularly monitored cow shelter homes. On the upcoming Magh Mela in Allahabad, he said all necessary arrangements should be made, maintaining the quality of different works. (PTI)

17:26 (IST)30 Dec 2020
Scenes from farmers-government meeting

Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar along with Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal (L) during a meeting with farmers leaders over the new farm laws, at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. (PTI Photo)

16:15 (IST)30 Dec 2020
Hold direct talks with PM for successful outcome: Congress, SAD tell farmers

The Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress on Wednesday urged farmers protesting against the Centre's farm laws to talk directly with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying otherwise the dialogue will not yield any result.

Commenting on farmer leaders' meeting with the Centre over the laws on Wednesday, former Union minister and Akali Dal's Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal said they shouldn't fall into the "trap" of extended meetings, "which yield nothing".

Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar too favoured direct talks with the PM, saying the involvement of the prime minister or Union home minister is a must for a successful dialogue.

"Our farmers are on the cusp of victory. I appeal to them to hold direct talks with the PM to get these agri laws repealed," Badal said in a tweet.

"They shouldn't fall into trap of extended meetings which yield nothing," the Bathinda MP added. (PTI)

16:12 (IST)30 Dec 2020
Tempo brings food for farmers at Vigyan Bhavan

A 'Kar Sewa' tempo arrives at Vigyan Bhawan carrying food for farmers' delegation.

16:10 (IST)30 Dec 2020
BJP workers want withdrawal of farm laws: Akhilesh Yadav

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday claimed that the ruling BJP's ground level workers also want withdrawal of three new farm laws as they feel they will not be able to face the people.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, are protesting at various borders of the national capital for more than a month against the three new laws.

In a tweet in Hindi, the SP chief said, "The BJP government should not 'cheat' farmers of the entire country for the benefit of a few rich friends and in today's talks, withdraw the agriculture laws. The truth is that the ground level worker of the BJP also wants the same because he is not able garner the courage to go among the general people. Political leadership of India has never been so barren."

16:06 (IST)30 Dec 2020
Tomar, Piyush Goyal have lunch with farmers at Vigyan Bhavan

Union ministers Piyush Goyal and Narendra Singh Tomar having food with farmer leaders during the lunch break at Vigyan Bhawan where the government is holding talks with farmers on three farm laws.

15:16 (IST)30 Dec 2020
Agri Minister Tomar, two Union ministers at meeting with farmers

The sixth round of government farmers talks underway at New Delhi's Vigyan Bhavan.

15:13 (IST)30 Dec 2020
What is the agenda of farmers-government talks for today?

The government has invited farm unions for the talks saying that it's committed to resolve the “relevant issues rationally” with a “clean intention and an open mind.” However, farm unions have set a 4-point agenda for talks. It includes modalities to be adopted for the repeal of the three Central Farm Acts-- The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and, The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

Besides, they have also included three other demands in their agenda which are: mechanisms to be adopted to make remunerative MSP recommended by the National Farmers' Commission into a legally guaranteed entitlement for all farmers and all agricultural commodities; amendments to be made and notified in the "Commission for the Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance, 2020" to exclude farmers from the penal provisions of the Ordinance; and withdrawal of the draft Electricity Amendment Bill 2020 to protect the interests of farmers.

The 4-point agenda was first communicated by the farm unions in a joint letter to Vivek Aggarwal, joint secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare on December 26. It was reiterated by the union leaders in a letter to the Agriculture Secretary on December 30, a day ahead of the fresh round of talks.

(Explained by Harikishan Sharma)

14:40 (IST)30 Dec 2020
Centre-farmer talks underway

Meeting between Union Government and farmer leaders over three farm laws underway at Vigyan Bhawan.

This is the sixth round of talks between the Centre and protesting farmers with the latter sticking to their position that the discussion can only be on a four-point agenda including modalities of repealing the laws and providing a legal guarantee on minimum support price.

14:23 (IST)30 Dec 2020
At Ghazipur, small farmers from outside Punjab say MSP just a dream

Among those arriving at the Ghazipur border to join the protest against the farm laws is a sizable group of small farmers, mostly from Uttar Pradesh and some from Uttarakhand. Speaking to The Indian Express, many said they are being paid less than the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their crops, or, in the case of sugarcane farmers, haven’t been paid at all for a years.

Farmers from all backgrounds insisted that small farmers, who own two acres or less, will be hit hardest by the laws.

Read our ground report here

13:49 (IST)30 Dec 2020
Days after PM lauded Haryana farmer, voices in his village rise in support of farm protest

Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to a Haryana farmer Hari Singh Bishnoi and praised his efforts for crop diversification, a section of farmers from Bishnoi’s native village, Nadhori in Fatehabad district, said that a donation drive is underway in the village to support farmers protesting at the Delhi borders. Farmer leaders also claimed that some village panchayat members have also passed a resolution against PM Modi and three farm laws, however, authorities are trying to find out its authenticity.

A former village sarpanch, Ravinder Dharnia, told The Indian Express the farmers in tractor-trolleys left for Delhi borders on Tuesday, adding a campaign for collection of funds for them is also underway in the village. Another former sarpanch, Krishan Bishnoi, said, “Apart from a collection of Rs 3 lakh, the villagers are also donating ghee and wheat for the agitator farmers.” A farmer leader Mandeep Nathwan said three tractor-trolleys left for Delhi Tuesday.

13:32 (IST)30 Dec 2020
Today's meeting with farmers will be decisive: Union minister Som Prakash

Union minister Som Prakash -- who has been part of the government's three-member team for negotiations with the farmers -- said, "Today's meeting with farmers will be decisive".

"We want them to celebrate New Year at their homes, with their family and we are going into the meeting with an open heart and mind. The government will try to resolve the issue so that people can go back to their homes," Som Prakash was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

"We will discuss every issue including Minimum Support Price. I can say that we are open to talks with an open heart. They too should come with an open mind. The agitation will definitely end if they do that," the minister added.

13:01 (IST)30 Dec 2020
Singhu border to get free WiFi hotspots so farmers can video call families back home

AAP will install free WiFi hotspots at the Singhu border for the convenience of protesting farmers, party leader and MLA Raghav Chadha said Tuesday. He said it was the initiative of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

“Any person needs three things to live a life of dignity: roti (food), kapda (clothes), makaan (home). But in today’s time, a fourth thing has been added, which is internet. Our farmer brothers and sisters came to Delhi borders, and have been fighting for their rights for the past one month,” he said at a press conference.

“Sewadar Arvind Kejriwal gave sewa of blankets, langar, toilets and water, and now he will start another sewa of free WiFi at Singhu border,” said Chadha.

12:25 (IST)30 Dec 2020
Farmers lathi-charged in Patna, several injured

Over half-a-dozen farmers suffered minor injuries when police lathicharged them near Dak Bungalow crossing in Patna on Tuesday. Over 2,000 farmers, under the aegis of All India Farmers Struggle Coordination committee, were marching towards Raj Bhavan to submit their memorandum of demands when they were lathicharged. The farmers, however, were not allowed to reach Raj Bhavan. Left parties are also backing the farmers.

All India Kisan Mahasabha’s state secretary Ramadhar Singh said farmers had come to Patna from Purnea, Araria, Gopalganj, East Champaran and Siwan on their own and their protest would only intensify in the coming days. A major segment of these farmers are share-croppers, he added.

Singh said Bihar farmers are in complete solidarity with farmers protesting along the Delhi-Haryana borders. “We want roll back of all the three farm laws. Bihar government did away with the mandi system in 2006 but did not provide any alternative system. Most farmers have to sell their paddy much below MSP,” Singh alleged.

The farmers were marching towards Raj Bhavan when they were lathicharged. (PTI)

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The fifth round of talks was held on December 5, while the sixth round originally scheduled for December 9 was called off after an informal meeting of Home Minister Shah with some union leaders failed to reach any breakthrough. The government had, however, followed up Shah's meeting with a draft proposal sent to the unions in which it had suggested 7-8 amendments to the new laws and written assurance on the MSP procurement system. It has ruled out a repeal of the three agri laws. In a letter to the farmer unions, Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Aggarwal on Monday invited them for the talks at 2 pm on Wednesday at Vigyan Bhavan in the national capital.

The farmers had also written to the government on December 26 listing the agenda. In the latest letter, the Morcha pointed out that in its December 26 communication to the government, it had mentioned "changes" by mistake instead of "withdrawal" in the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020. Farmer unions also deferred to Thursday their proposed tractor march against the contentious agriculture laws, so that the rally does not clash with their talks with the government.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates the dedicated freight corridor via video conference. (PTI)

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, referring to the targeting of infrastructure during demonstrations and movements, said this amounts to hurting the country, its “poor and common people”. While exercising democratic rights, he said, “we should never forget our obligation to the nation”.

Inaugurating the New Bhaupur-New Khurja section and the operation control centre of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor, the Prime Minister said dedicated freight corridors will allow farm produce to reach destinations faster and benefit everyone, from industry to businesses, farmers to consumers.

In an address via a video link, Modi said: “Our past experience tells us that the development of the country’s infrastructure should be kept away from politics. The country’s infrastructure is the path of its development, not that of a party’s ideology. It’s a mission to benefit many future generations, not five years of politics. If political parties have to compete, there should be competition in the quality of infrastructure, competition on speed and scale.”

READ | Farmers in Madhya Pradesh duped by traders, lens on key clauses in farm laws

READ | Disquiet in Punjab govt over cell tower vandalism, police seek to control damage

READ | Farmers lathi-charged in Patna, several injured

READ | At Ghazipur, small farmers from outside Punjab say MSP just a dream

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