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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Farmers’ Protest HIGHLIGHTS: Centre urges farmers to participate in proceedings of SC-appointed panel

Lohri, a major festival in Punjab which marks the beginning of spring, is usually celebrated with edible items offered to bonfires. Incidentally, Wednesday also marks the 50th day of the farmers' protest in Delhi.

By: Express Web Desk | Chandigarh, New Delhi | Updated: January 19, 2021 10:46:44 am
IMF on farm laws, Gerry Rice, Farm laws iNdia, Farmers protests, Narendra Modi, India news, Indian expressFarmers burn copies of new farm laws at Ghazipur border in New Delhi on Wednesday. (express Photo by Praveen Khanna)

To mark Lohri on Wednesday, farmers protesting in the national capital burned copies of the three farm laws. Lohri, a major festival in Punjab which marks the beginning of spring, is usually celebrated with edible items like jaggery, popcorn, rewri and sesame offered to the bonfire. Incidentally, Wednesday also marks the 50th day of the farmers’ protest in Delhi.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary has asked the farmer unions to take part in the proceedings of the Supreme Court-appointed panel, without confirming if the ninth-round of talks between the Centre and the farm bodies on January 15 would take place or not.

In other news, Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi today to discuss the protests in the state over the legislations. The meeting comes a day after Dushyant and Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar held talks with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, after which they reiterated there was no threat to the state’s coalition government.

The Supreme Court Tuesday stayed the implementation of the three contentious farm laws and set up a four-member committee to make recommendations on the legislations after listening to all stakeholders. A bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde gave the panel two months to submit its report, which would help the court arrive at a “fair, equitable and just solution”.

In response to the verdict, farmer unions announced they would not participate in the consultation process, and reiterated their demand for repeal of the laws. Leaders welcomed the SC’s interim measure, but said it was “not a solution”. Calling the committee members “pro government”, they said the panel was a way to divert attention from the government, “so that pressure is lifted from them”, and farmers keep fighting in the court.

Live Blog

Supreme Court stays implementation of farm laws; SC panel to begin hearing stakeholders in 10 days; SC seeks affidavit from Centre on 'Khalistani' support to protests; farmer unions say won't participate in consultation process; Khattar, Dushyant say no threat to Haryana govt. Read highlights

13:18 (IST)14 Jan 2021
Of faith and fire: Chandigarh’s centre reverberates with support for farmers
Farmers burn the copies of new farmers bill during their agitation against the bill, at Ghazipur border in New Delhi on Wednesday. (Express Photo by Praveen Khanna)

THE fire burnt bright, as did the emotions of people, who came together on a cold Lohri evening at the Sector 17 Plaza on Wednesday to speak, sing, dance, and perform for the farmers protesting for weeks at Singhu and Tikri borders of Delhi.

Standing for the farmers on common ground, and demanding the repeal of the ‘three black farm laws’, people from different walks of life, age groups and ideologies encouraged and inspired by different student groups of Panjab University, Chandigarh, in a symbolic gesture burnt the three farm laws in the Lohri fire, praying and hoping for new beginnings. Read More

12:42 (IST)14 Jan 2021
Newlyweds, first-time fathers dedicate their Lohri to farmers

Lalit Mittal, a professor of chemistry at DAV College, Mansa, was excited to celebrate the first Lohri of his son Anchit. However, the farmers’ movement has taken centre-stage. The Mittals started their celebrations by burning copies of the farm laws in the bonfire.

His wife Anchal, who is a lecturer of Punjabi at the Krishna College of Mansa, said, “We support farmers and hence we supported their call to burn copies of farm laws on Lohri.” Lalit added, “I have been closely watching the struggle. I always express my opinions openly on my social media page after every round of talks with the government. I feel that laws must be repealed so that farmers can come back home at the earliest.” Read More

12:41 (IST)14 Jan 2021
SC panelist says he wants to stay impartial, farmer unions question his allegiances
The 81-year-old is president of the Bharti Kisan Union (Mann) and chairman of the All India Kisan Coordination Committee (AIKCC), which was formed in the early 80s.

The inclusion of Bhupinder Singh Mann, 81, in the committee named by the Supreme Court to suggest what changes, if any, needed to be made in the Centre’s farm laws, has stoked a controversy among farmer unions who believe he is president of a “pro-farm laws farm union”.

A resident of Batala district of Punjab, Mann was an independent member of the Rajya Sabha from 1990 to 1996. He had supported Congress in the 2012, 2017 Vidhan Sabha polls and in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in Punjab, and is in support of the Centre’s farm laws. His son is a member of the Punjab Public Service Commission since 2018, and was also a member of the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board for a short period of time during the Amarinder government. Read More

20:26 (IST)13 Jan 2021
Farmers’ agitation enters 50th day: A timeline of how it unfolded

The farmers’ agitation at Delhi’s borders has entered its 50th day on Wednesday. The farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, who have been sitting at protest since November 25 last year, have been demanding a complete repeal of the three farm laws promulgated by the Centre, fearing that they would lead to the abolishment of the minimum support price (MSP) guaranteed by the government on select crops and would leave them at the mercy of big corporates.

The three laws are: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020; and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020.

19:55 (IST)13 Jan 2021
AAP burns copies of black laws across Punjab on Lohri

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) burnt copies of the Centre’s agricultural laws while celebrating Lohri across Punjab on Wednesday.

In a statement issued from the party headquarters, AAP state president and MP from Sangrur Bhagwant Mann said, “Our annadatas were working day and night against the black laws of the central government and getting martyred during the agitation.”

He said that so farm more than 65 farmers have died in the agitation. “In this moment of farmers' crisis, all the workers of Aam Aadmi Party have decided that we will dedicate this year's Lohri to our farmer brothers who were martyred in the movement,” said Mann.

18:09 (IST)13 Jan 2021
Government should arrest anyone raising anti-India sentiments in protest: BKU spokesperson

If someone is raising anti-India sentiments in the farmers' agitation then the government should arrest him. It should also work on how to end the new farm laws. The government has banned over 10-year-old tractors so we'll drive the same tractors on Delhi roads: Rakesh Tikat, spokesperson, Bharatiya Kisan Union.

17:09 (IST)13 Jan 2021
Selling badges, stickers at Singhu border: Farmers' stir gives many vendors chance to revive income

With the protesting farmers staying put at the border point of the national capital for over six weeks now, many small businesses have sprung up at the site, the newest being sale of pro-protest badges and stickers.

Shopkeepers with basket full of badges and stickers, with 'I love Kheti (farming)', 'I love Kisan', and 'Kisan Ekta Zindabad' printed on them, have seated themselves at every nook and corner of the highway. Almost every protestor could be seen donning a badge, while the tractors and trolleys flaunt the stickers.

Rakesh Arora and his nephew brought in inventory worth Rs 2,500 two days ago from Ambala and have managed to sell products worth Rs 700 so far. "I used to be a vendor at India Gate. But after lockdown, business has been really poor. So we decided to set shop at the protest once we saw an opportunity," Arora said.

Amaan, an electrician from Delhi's Okhla has also taken to selling these badges and stickers, owing to lack of work. Both badge and sticker are being sold at Rs 10. "It doesn't yield much income, but something is better than nothing. Barely 15-20 people buy these each day," he said. (PTI)

16:06 (IST)13 Jan 2021
Kamal Haasan thanks SC for staying implementation of farm laws

Actor-turned politician and founder of Makkal Neethi Maiam, Kamal Hassan on Wednesday thanked the Supreme Court for staying the implementation of Centre's new farm laws.

Speaking to reporters here, Haasan said, "We profusely thank the Supreme Court for doing this (stay) for the nation. We are grateful."

When pointed to the agitating farmers having reportedly rejected the panel set up by the apex court to resolve the impasse over the farm laws, he said, "at least the dialogue has begun.. if refused we will have to take steps to move further. That is how it will work.." (PTI)

15:29 (IST)13 Jan 2021
AMU students committee to set up health camp, mini library at farmers' protest site

The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) students Coordination Committee has announced that they would set up a health camp and a mini library at a farmers' protest site in the Delhi border as a mark of solidarity with the protesters.

In a written statement issued on Tuesday evening, the students coordination committee said the decision to open a health camp and the library was taken at its general body meeting.

It may be mentioned that presently there is no elected students union at the AMU since no election has been held for the past three years. Former office-bearers of students' union have been operating through the platform of the coordination committee. (PTI)

15:10 (IST)13 Jan 2021
PB Mehta writes: Supreme Court’s order putting on hold the farm bills is terrible constitutional precedent, bereft of judgment

The Supreme Court is increasingly looking like one of those fantasy creatures with disjointed shapes, where nothing is what it appears to be. The forms keep mysteriously changing, with benign faces masking more ominous fangs, and shapes shifting as the need arises. So this is a constitutional court that does not pronounce on the constitutionality of laws. Instead, it wades into political and administrative management without the imprimatur of any law. It positions itself as a saviour of democracy only to make a mockery of the parliamentary process. It wades into conflict management, only to hide behind the façade of some expert committee. It pretends that distributive conflicts are technical ones. It finds ruses to defuse genuine democratic protest. Yet it will not facilitate the orderly and law-bound expression of protest. Read more

14:45 (IST)13 Jan 2021
Farmers burn copies of farm laws at Singhu border

Farmers protesting at Singhu border burn copies of three new farm laws on Lohri. (ANI)

14:30 (IST)13 Jan 2021
On Lohri, AAP leaders burn copies of farm laws in Ludhiana
14:05 (IST)13 Jan 2021
Farmers, advocates burn copies of farm laws on Lohri
13:18 (IST)13 Jan 2021
Hema Malini on farm laws: Farmers do not know what they want

BJP MP Hema Malini has made a statement on the farm laws. Speaking to ANI, she says: "They (agitating farmers) do not even know what they want and what is the problem with the farm laws, which shows that they are doing this because someone asked them to do it."

13:11 (IST)13 Jan 2021
Punjab villages refuse to pause preparations for Republic Day tractor parade
Farmers from Amritsar on way to Delhi to join the protest against the new farm laws, on Tuesday. (Express Photo: Rama Simranjit Singh)

As the Supreme Court put the three farm laws on hold, a large convoy of tractor-trollies left Amritsar for Delhi to participate in the Republic Day parade announced by farmer unions. The convoy left for Delhi Tuesday under the banner of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC).

"We never had any big hope from the Supreme Court. It is the Union government which can repeal laws. Supreme Court can do little in this issue. We had made it clear that we won't go to any committee. So any such hope from us was not practical that we would respond to a committee, which has all pro-government members. It seems that government is indirectly trying to use Supreme Court to end the dharna," said Sawarn Singh Pandher, general secretary, KMSC. Read Kamaldeep Singh Brar's repot

12:38 (IST)13 Jan 2021
SC ruling gives relief to BJP leaders

Even as the government called on all sides to "honour" the Supreme Court's ruling, there was a palpable sense of relief within the establishment and the ruling BJP, which were desperate to end the statemate without being seen as "anti-farmer". Sources told Harikishan Sharma and Liz Mathew the court's order was a "blessing" that "showed us a way out".

"Although the court’s move is a bit embarrassing for the government because of its aggressive position during the deadlock, this is perhaps the best way to get out of the crisis," said a senior BJP leader.

12:26 (IST)13 Jan 2021
Supreme Court enters uncharted territory; in Aadhaar, poll bonds, took another stand

With its interim order staying the implementation of the three new farm laws, the Supreme Court has entered into uncharted territory. This is perhaps the first time the apex court has stayed a law passed by Parliament without sparing even a single hearing to examine its constitutionality — the court’s primary function. Read Apurva Vishwanath's report

12:04 (IST)13 Jan 2021
Farmers say will burn copies of farm laws on Lohri today

To mark Lohri on Wednesday, farmers protesting in the national capital will burn copies of the three farm laws. Lohri, a major festival in Punjab which marks the beginning of spring, is usually celebrated with edible items like jaggery, popcorn, rewri and sesame offered to the bonfire.

“Farmers are preparing to celebrate Lohri tomorrow at all borders of Delhi, where they are sitting on dharna. This time, Lohri will be celebrated by burning copies of the three central farm laws. A large number of farmers from Uttar Pradesh are also joining this movement at Ghazipur border,” the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha said in a statement. Read Aranya Shankar's report

11:54 (IST)13 Jan 2021
Dushyant Chautala to meet PM Modi today

Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday to discuss the farmers' protests in the state. The meeting comes a day after Dushyant and Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar met Union Home Minister Amit Shah. After the meeting, Khattar and Dushyant had reiterated there was no threat to the coalition government in the state.

11:34 (IST)13 Jan 2021
Editorial: Supreme Court's attempt to resolve government-farmer problem creates problems of its own

The apex court’s interim order on Tuesday may be well-intentioned. But it sets a dubious precedent. One, by pronouncing not on the constitutionality of the law, but on its setting and specifically the protests against it, the court is encroaching into territory beyond its remit. Two, it is showing a clear double standard. Over the past few years, the SC has shown a marked lack of urgency and, in fact, distressing inattention to cases that have involved important constitutional questions and lined up at its door. In many cases, by delaying and by turning away, it has allowed a fait accompli, created a new fact on the ground, and in effect, wrought a denial of justice. Now, its alacrity in taking into its own hands the ongoing impasse between government and farmers on the three farm laws, and its enthusiasm in playing arbiter, therefore, raises questions. Read The Indian Express editorial

Business As Usual by E P Unny

Farm leaders address a press conference at Singhu border in New Delhi after the Supreme Court judgment on the farm laws, on Tuesday, January 12, 2020. (Express Photo: Abhinav Saha)

Supreme Court stays farm laws, names panel for talks

The Supreme Court has put on hold, until further orders, the implementation of the three contentious farm laws and named a committee to suggest what changes, if any, were needed after it listens to all sides. The bench, headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde and comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, claimed negotiations between the farmers and the government had been fruitless and a "committee of experts" may "create a congenial atmosphere and improve the trust and confidence of the farmers".

It added that a stay of “implementation of all the three farm laws” may “assuage the hurt feelings” of protesting farmers and encourage them to come to the negotiating table with “confidence” and in “good faith”.

Farm unions welcome stay but reject panel: it’s pro-Govt

In a statement, the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, spearheading the protests by farmer unions camping at the gates of Delhi since November 26, said: “We noted that the Court has ordered suspension of implementation of the laws temporarily. Suspending the implementation of the laws as an interim measure is welcome, but is not a solution and the farmer unions have not been asking for this solution, given the fact that the implementation can be reinstated… The Government must repeal the laws.”

The Morcha said it would not participate in “any such committee process”.

Most on Supreme Court committee have backed farm laws

All four members have publicly been in favour of the farm laws and none of them has supported the demands for repealing them. Three of the four believe the protesting farmers are misguided; they are unanimous in their view that the farm laws will benefit the farmers immensely.

There is no voice in the panel for the kind of reservations against the farm laws that the protesting farmers are raising. But between the four of them, the panel members bring several decades of experience, either as agricultural economists or farmer leaders.

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