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Farmers’ Protest Highlights: Farmer union leaders to sit on hunger strike on Dec 14

Farmers' Protest Today Highlights: The move to intensify the stir came on a day when PM Narendra Modi assured them that his government was committed to their welfare and that the legislations were aimed at giving them alternate markets to boost income.

By: Express Web Desk | Chandigarh, New Delhi |
Updated: December 13, 2020 10:29:37 am
Farmers Protest, Farm bills, farmers protest in delhi, farmers protest in tikri border, indian express newsFarmers protesting at Singhu border

Farmers’ Protest Highlights: With the farm protests spilling over to the third week and no end in sight to the deadlock, farmer leaders on Saturday said they have decided to intensify their agitation against the controversial agriculture laws and that their union leaders will sit on a hunger strike on December 14.

“If the government wants to hold talks, we are ready, but our main demand will remain the scrapping of the three laws. We will move onto our other demands only after that,” farmer leader Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu told reporters at Singhu border. He also announced that thousands of farmers will start their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march from Rajasthan’s Shahjahanpur through the Jaipur-Delhi Highway at 11 am on Sunday.

The move to intensify the stir came on a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured them that his government was committed to their welfare and that the legislations were aimed at giving them alternate markets to boost income.

Meanwhile, the Congress on Saturday accused the Modi government of branding every person opposing it a “Maoist” and an “anti-national” and urged the Centre to accede to the demands of the protesting farmers. The party’s comments came after Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said some “anti-social elements” are conspiring to spoil the atmosphere of the peasants’ movement under the guise of farmers, and appealed to the protesting farming community to be vigilant against their platform being misused.

Thousands of farmers from states like Punjab and Haryana have blocked some of the highways leading to Delhi borders for more than two weeks now against the new farm laws which they fear will prompt the government to stop making direct crop purchases at minimum state-set prices, called minimum support price.

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Farmers' protest Highlights: Protest enters 17th day; Centre invites farmer unions to join next round of talks; farmers from Punjab, Haryana at Delhi's borders threaten to intensify stir. Follow latest news and updates below

00:25 (IST)13 Dec 2020
Not just farmers, Union govt’s own body backed making MSP legal

Making Minimum Support Price (MSP) a legal right is not a demand that farmers alone have been raising. In fact, the Union government's own statutory body had suggested the same two years back.

The Commission for Agriculture Cost and Prices (CACP), which was set up in January 1965 as Agriculture Price Commission (later changed its name to CACP in 1985 ), which is under the Ministry of Agriculture, has been fixing MSP of crops for the over five decades now. It currently fixes the MSP of 23 crops every year. In 2018, CACP had suggested the Centre should make MSP a legal right for the farmers.

“In its report titled ‘Price Policy for Kharif Crops’ for the marketing season 2018-19, the CACP had mentioned that procurement of the farmers crop system is shattered for most crops and most farmers are forced to sell their crops to local traders only who are purchasing the crops at quite below the suggested MSP by it (CACP),” said a retired Prof of Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, adding that there is no use of fixing the MSP of crops if they are not implemented on the ground or they do not have any legal value.

(Input from Anju Agnihotri Chaba, Jalandhar)

23:50 (IST)12 Dec 2020
BJP ally Beniwal joins farmers' protest in Rajasthan

Farmers in Rajasthan blocked highways at several places on Saturday to protest against the Centre's new agri laws, with BJP-ally Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) MP Hanuman Beniwal joining one such demonstration.

Terming the new farm laws as "anti-farmer", Beniwal, the convenor of RLP, said if Prime Minister Narendra Modi is equally concerned about the farmers, he should implement the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission. He also reiterated that he would withdraw from the NDA if talks do not turn in favour of farmers. Beniwal along with his supporters also announced that they would move towards the Rajasthan-Delhi border to protest against the new farm laws.

Addressing a 'Kisan Mahapanchayat' organized at Kotputli, Beniwal said the Centre did not hold discussions with stakeholders before bringing the farm laws. "When the three bills were brought, they did not talk to anyone. We are also a part of the NDA. We are also the sons of farmers. They should have talked to us. They should have told us that they are bringing such a bill for farmers. I do not know who drafted the bills... They were brought and passed," Beniwal said.

21:49 (IST)12 Dec 2020
Accept farmers' demands, whole country fed up of your lollypops: Cong to PM

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi assuring farmers that his government was committed to their welfare, the Congress on Saturday hit out at him, saying the farmers want pro-people governance not flowery speeches and urged the Centre to accede to their demands.

In a tweet, Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala attacked Modi for his remarks at an event on Saturday that the agri reforms will be beneficial for the farmers, saying the "whole country is fed up of your enticing 'lollypops'". He said the farmers want pro-people governance not flowery speeches, and the people in the country want cheap ration.

The opposition party also cited a media report to claim that 11 farmers have died in the last 17 days while protesting the new agri laws, with former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi asking how many more sacrifices will the farmers have to make to get the legislations repealed.

21:29 (IST)12 Dec 2020
BKU workers detained after letting vehicles go for free via toll plaza in Mathura

In support of farmers' protests in Delhi, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) workers on Saturday briefly took over Maant toll plaza on the Yamuna Expressway here and allowed free movement of vehicles for some time before being detained by police.

"Over three dozen activists of Bhartiya Kisan Union took possession of Maant toll plaza this forenoon," said Raj Kumar Tomar, District President, BKU.

Though a majority of BKU activists had left for Delhi to participate in the agitation, several others were kept under "house arrest" since the early hours of Saturday, he alleged. In protest, more than 30 BKU workers reached Maant toll plaza and allowed all vehicles to travel for free for some time.

Police got information and reached the spot on the highway. Later, they whisked away the protesters and detained them at a nearby police station for a few hours. They were set free by evening, police added.

20:51 (IST)12 Dec 2020
Photos of farmers at Himalayan Expressway Chandimandir Toll Plaza

Below are some pictures of members of farmer unions at the Himalayan Expressway Chandimandir Toll Plaza on Saturday. 

20:26 (IST)12 Dec 2020
Watch: Farmers remove police barricades from Sardulgarh-Fatehabad Highway

Protesting farmers from Punjab and Haryana removed police barricades from Sardulgarh-Fatehabad Highway on Saturday afternoon. Watch video here

20:13 (IST)12 Dec 2020
New agri laws brought in to loot farmers, withdraw them: Akhilesh to BJP govt

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday asked the BJP government to stop "atrocities" against farmers and withdraw the three agriculture laws brought in for "looting" them. In a release issued by the party headquarters here, Yadav said the farmers of the country have understood that the BJP government is "adopting different tactics to snatch their land and harvest". He accused the BJP government of becoming a "puppet in the hands of capitalists". PTI

19:50 (IST)12 Dec 2020
Farmers' stir slipping into wrong hands: Former Himachal CM Shanta Kumar

Himachal Pradesh's former Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Shanta Kumar Saturday alleged that the farmers' stir against the three new farm laws is being funded by "adhatiyas's and is fast slipping into "wrong hands", including those of terror outfits, reported PTI.

"It is unfortunate that even after long talks by ministers and assurances by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the farmers' agitation is becoming more intensified," Kumar said.

"The leadership of the movement now is not in the hands of the farmers working in fields. The movement is being run mainly by political leaders of Punjab," he further alleged.

19:28 (IST)12 Dec 2020
Demanded repealing of laws, guarantee of MSP since day 1: Farm unions

With farmers refusing to accept the government’s proposal of amendments in the agri laws, some sections are saying that these amendments should have been offered at the beginning of the agitation in June, when it had not yet intensified. However, this perception belies the fact that ever since the decision of bringing the three ordinances was taken at a Union Cabinet meeting held on June 2, the farmers have been demanding their cancellation.

Even before the three agri ordinances, which were notified by the Centre on June 5 this year, came into being legally, farmer unions in Punjab had raised their banner of dissent against the three Bills since as early as June 4.

19:14 (IST)12 Dec 2020
Visuals from the Delhi-Jaipur Highway

Security was beefed up at the Delhi Jaipur Highway at Shahjahanpur on Saturday, after farmers announced to intensify their protests. Below are some pictures from the protest site.

19:00 (IST)12 Dec 2020
Local group performs plays at Singhu border

A local group performed plays on land ownership and farmer issues at the main stage at Singhu Border in New Delhi on Saturday. 

18:49 (IST)12 Dec 2020
New farm laws to help farmers get renumerative price, says Dilip Ghosh

Amid protests by farmers in Delhi over new farm laws, West Bengal president Dilip Ghosh Saturday said the agriculture reform measures help them get better access to markets and realise a higher price for their produce, reported PTI.

Speaking at a party's programme in Paschim Medinipur district, he said farmers in the state have been deprived of getting a remunerative price for their produce.

"Earlier, a farmer was forced to sell his produce to middlemen. They sold potato at Rs 5 per kg, while we are buying it at Rs 40. They are unable to sell their paddy at minimum support price," he said.

"The new farm laws will provide flexibility to farmers to sell their produce in markets where they get a better price," Ghosh said.

18:26 (IST)12 Dec 2020
Around 150 protesting farmers march to BJP MP Mahesh Sharma's hospital in Noida

Notwithstanding rain and cold, farmers staying put at the Noida-Delhi border intensified their stir on Saturday with 150 of them marching to a hospital owned by BJP's Gautam Buddh Nagar MP Mahesh Sharma, demanding removal of the three new farm laws.

They also distributed packets of rice and lentils to commuters, urging them to support the farmers' demand.

In the afternoon, over 150 protesters marched to Kailash Hospital in Noida which is owned by BJP leader and Gautam Buddh Nagar MP Mahesh Sharma. According to a local police official, no untoward incident was reported during the incident. (PTI)

18:05 (IST)12 Dec 2020
Farmer agitation no longer remains farmers’ movement; infiltrated by Leftist, Maoist elements: Goyal

As the farmers’ protest against new farm laws entered its 17th day, Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday said the agitation no longer remains a farmers’ movement as it has been “infiltrated by Leftist and Maoist elements” demanding the release of those put behind bars for “anti-national activities”.

This, he said, was clearly to derail agriculture reforms brought by the government.

Goyal, however, did not say if the government had or is planning to take any action against any person belonging to banned outfits seen at the protests.

17:16 (IST)12 Dec 2020
Hopeful of next round of talks between Centre and farmers in next 24-40 hours: Dushyant Chautala

Afteer meeting Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Saturday, Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala said that he is hopeful of next round of talks between Centre and farmers in the next 24-40 hours, PTI reported.

"Till I am in Haryana govt, MSP will be ensured for each farmer," Dushyant said, adding that the Haryana givt is stable as of now and they have a strong position on the MSP issue. 

17:09 (IST)12 Dec 2020
Watch: Pictures from farmers' protest at Singhu border

Below are some visuals from the protest site at the Singhu border in New Delhi.

16:24 (IST)12 Dec 2020
Congress accuses Modi govt of branding every opponent 'Maoist' and 'anti-national', asks it to accept farmers' demands

The Congress on Saturday accused the Modi government of branding every person opposing it a "Maoist" and an "anti-national", and urged the Centre to accede to the demands of the protesting farmers.

The party's comments came in a day after Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said some "anti-social elements" are conspiring to spoil the atmosphere of the peasants' movement under the guise of farmers, and appealed to the protesting farming community to be vigilant against their platform being misused.

Food, Railway and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal was more direct in his charge, alleging that certain Leftist and Maoist elements seem to have taken "control" of the agitation and rather than discussing farmer issues, they seem to be having some other agenda.

Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tagged a media report on Goyal's remarks and tweeted, "Mr. Modi, autocracy has no place in democracy. Yours and your ministers' policy is to declare every opponent a Maoist and an anti-national."

"Apologise to the farmers who are on a sit-in braving the fierce cold and rains, and accede to their rightful demands immediately," he said in a tweet in Hindi. (PTI)

16:05 (IST)12 Dec 2020
PM Modi assures farmers on agricultural reforms, says govt committed to their welfare

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday assured farmers that his government is committed to their welfare and that the legislations were aimed at giving them alternate markets to boost income.

Without directly referring to the farmers' agitation, which entered the 17th day on Saturday, Modi said agriculture reforms as part of government efforts are aimed at removing roadblocks, and the new laws will also bring in technology and investment in the sector.

The government, he said, is committed to protecting the interest and welfare of farmers through its policies and actions.

"Reforms will help draw investment in the agriculture sector and benefit farmers," he said at the annual meeting of industry body FICCI here. "The aim of all government reforms is to make farmers prosperous." (PTI)

15:15 (IST)12 Dec 2020
Security at Delhi borders increased after farmers' announcement to intensify stir

The Delhi Police on Saturday increased deployment of personnel and placed more concrete barriers at various border points as farmers have announced to intensify their protests, with plans to block the Delhi-Jaipur highway and the Yamuna Expressway.

"So far, there is no protest at Delhi-Gurgaon border. There is no disruption in traffic movement. However, we have proper security arrangements in place to deal with any situation," a senior police officer said.

Social activist Yogendra Yadav, who is part of the ongoing protests, said farmers from Rajasthan and Haryana are assembling on Saturday and their 'Delhi Chalo' march would begin on Sunday.

"Farmers' 'Delhi march' on Jaipur-Delhi highway will not start today and it will begin from Shahjahanpur border tomorrow. Today, farmers from Rajasthan and Haryana will congregate in Kotputli and Behror," Yadav tweeted in Hindi. (PTI)

13:58 (IST)12 Dec 2020
Kisan Mazdoor Sangharash Committee Punjab's tractor-trolly convoy move towards Delhi

Kisan Mazdoor Sangharash Committee Punjab's tractor-trolly convoy move towards Delhi after a night stay at Shabad Markanda in Haryana

Over 1,500 vehicles, including about 1,300 tractor-trolleys, from nearly 1,000 villages in seven districts. This is the size of a new convoy of protesters from Punjab that is expected to reach the Delhi border over the weekend, according to the Kisan Mazdoor Sangarsh Committee (KMSC), which launched the first major protest in the state against the Centre's farm laws with the rail blockade from September-end.

The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Friday moved the Supreme Court challenging the controversial agriculture laws, claiming that these legislations will make farmers “vulnerable to corporate greed”, news agency ANI reported. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, on the other hand, reiterated that the government is ready to talk with the farmers and urged them to stop agitation in the "interest of the common people" and take the path of discussion. He further said that the government is willing to make reforms in the laws after talks, ANI reported.

Meanwhile, two senior Delhi Police officers heading security arrangements at Singhu border, where thousands of farmers have been camping for two weeks, have tested positive for Covid-19, an officer said. Hundreds of police personnel have been deployed at the Singhu border point to prevent the protesters from entering the national capital.

The Centre Thursday issued a fresh call for farmers to end their agitation and join the next round of talks. Having rejected the Centre's proposals, the farm leaders reacted to the new appeal by saying they would continue their protests for repeal of the laws. "We are against the three laws. We will block railway tracks if the Prime Minister doesn't listen to us," said Boota Singh, chairperson, BKU (Dakaunda), which is part of the stir.

Meanwhile, the farmers said the residences of BJP leaders, ministers and offices would be gheraoed, and dharnas would take place at district headquarters across the country on December 14. In the southern states, the protests would continue indefinitely.

A 20-page proposal offered by the Centre was rejected by farmer unions on Wednesday for being "vague". Farmers, who are steadfast in their demand that the three farm laws be repealed, said any further talks with the government would be based on the proposals they receive.

In its proposal, the Centre had offered significant concessions including a written assurance on continuation of minimum support price (MSP)-based procurement and ensuring parity in transactions inside and outside existing Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis. The proposal had been sent a day after 13 farmer leaders met Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Meanwhile, breaking his silence on the standoff between the Centre and farmers’ unions, Haryana's Deputy CM Dushyant Chautala on Thursday said that the Union government has accepted the “farmers’ demand of assuring MSP in writing” and that there is “no logic” to continue with the agitation when “written assurances are being given”. The JJP chief also said that he is a “farmer first” and “will be the first one to resign” if he fails to ensure that a farmer gets “MSP for each and every grain of his crop”.

However, a section of JJP MLAs do not seem to be on the same page with Dushyant as discussions have begun within the party on withdrawing support to the BJP in Haryana amid the farm protests. Seven of the 10 JJP MLAs have earlier come out in support of the farmers protesting against the central farm laws.

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