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Farmers’ stir Day 11: Congress supports nationwide strike call; Vijender threatens to return Khel Ratna; other developments

Farmers' protest in Delhi: There have been five rounds of talks between farmers' representatives and the government so far. The next meeting is scheduled for December 9. 

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 6, 2020 10:27:17 pm
Stir enters Day 10, vehicle flow in & out of Delhi downSince farmers have been camping at Delhi's borders, vehicular traffic in and out of the capital has reduced by 30-40 per cent, which could have an effect on Delhi’s commerce, officials say. (Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

The stir by farmers at New Delhi’s borders against the three farm laws entered its eleventh day Sunday. In a a major development, the farmers have declared a nationwide general strike on December 8, which has also earned the support from political parties AAP and Congress.

ALSO READ | Bharat Bandh on December 8: All you need to know

Addressing a press conference Friday, farmers union leader Gurnam Singh Chadoni said that if the Centre did not accept their demands to repeal the laws during Saturday’s talks, they would intensify their agitation and occupy toll plazas . There have been five rounds of talks between farmers’ representatives and the government till now, and the next meeting is scheduled for December 9.  After Thursday’s talks, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar had hinted that the Modi government could amend three major provisions in the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act.

EXPLAINED | Farmer protests: Why the govt should not allow the positions to harden

Here are the top developments on Day 11 of the farmers’ protests in Delhi: 

Congress lends support for Bharat Bandh on December 8

The Congress on Sunday expressed its “whole-hearted” support to the ‘Bharat Bandh’ called on December 8 by farmer unions against the new agri-marketing laws, and added it would hold protests that day at all district and state headquarters in support of the farmers’ demands.

ALSO READ | Virus shadow looms but few takers for masks, Covid test at protest site

“The entire world is witnessing the plight of our farmers. The entire world is seeing the horrible sight of farmers sitting outside the capital in the middle of the night in winters waiting for the government to listen to them,” Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera was quoted as saying by PTI. The Congress spokesperson targeted the government for introducing the new farm laws “surreptitiously”. “In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government in June surreptitiously brings ordinances, what was the hurry, the entire country was focussed on the fallout of COVID-19, the economic, social, health fallout, but the government was busy bringing ordinances to help its industrialist-corporate friends,” Khera said.

“Where was the need to bring these legislations so fast, you suspended the opposition parties from Parliament, you did not follow parliamentary procedure and hurried through the passing of the bills. If you were really bothered about the interest of the farmers, you would have taken their advice before coming up with these legislations…What we are seeing today is the result of a conspiracy between the government and its corporate friends, wherein the victim would be the farmer, and the farmer knows this,” Khera added.

Vijender Singh to return Khel Ratna if protesting farmers’ demands not met

Boxer Vijender Singh, who won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said on Sunday he would return his Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award , —the country’s highest sporting honour if the demands of the protesting farmers aren’t fulfilled.

The 35-year-old boxer supported the farmers’ cause and said if the three ordinances are not repealed, he would return the country’s highest sporting honour.  (Twitter/ANI)

“I owe a lot to Punjab. I spent most of time during my boxing career at the National Institute of Sports (NIS) Patiala, so now it’s my time to pay back to the state,” Vijender said at the Singhu border in Sonepat.

“I totally support the farmers’ demands and the entire country should support them because they are the lifeline of the country. Without them, we can’t live for a day,” said the boxer, who fought the 2019 Lok Sabha elections on a Congress ticket.

Farm laws will not be rolled back, amendments can be made: MoS Agriculture

Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary on Sunday reiterated that the three laws passed by the government are “in favour of farmers”, and they would not be repealed, though amendments could be made to them.

“These laws passed by the government will give freedom to farmers. We have always said farmers should have the right to sell their crop wherever they want. Even Swaminathan Commission’s report recommends that. I don’t think the laws should be repealed. If necessary, some amendments to the Acts will be made to acknowledge agitating farmer’s demands,” Choudhary was quoted as saying by ANI.

Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu to return Dronacharya Award to extend support to farmers

Former national boxing coach Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu has decided to return his Dronacharya Award to show solidarity with agitating farmers, news agency ANI reported.

Explained | Understanding the concept of trade areas in farm laws

“Whatever is happening in the country is not good. The lawmakers are saying they have made it for the betterment of farmers and they want to double or triple farmers’ income. You are making laws for them but they are saying that they do not want it. I think the way that they have used is not correct,” Sandhu was quoted as saying.

“I belong to a farmer’s family. We cannot do anything else but express our displeasure and urge the government to repeal the laws or make the necessary changes. So, keeping that in mind, I have returned my award,” he added.

10-member team from Kamal Haasan’s party to join stir in Delhi soon

Actor Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam will take part in the ongoing farmers protest that entered its 11th day on Sunday. In a statement, the party said a 10-member team will reach Delhi soon to join the farmers camping at various borders of the national capital.

Farmer leaders call for maximum participation in Bharat Bandh

The farmers have sought maximum participation from all quarters in the ‘Bharat Bandh’ called on December 8 and said over 250 farmers from Gujarat will be coming to the national capital to join the stir.

Farmer leaders at the border also welcomed the support extended by a number of political parties and called upon all others to come forward and support the ‘Bharat Bandh’ on Tuesday. “This agitation is not only of Punjab farmers but is of entire nation. We are going to strengthen our agitation and it has already spread across the nation. Since the government was not able to deal with us properly, we gave a call for ‘Bharat Bandh’. During yesterday’s meeting, even the ministers were upset with our call for ‘Bharat bandh’,” farmer leader Baldev Singh Yadav said at a press conference.

“We have announced ‘Bharat Bandh’ on December 8, which will start in the morning and continue till evening. During which, shops and businesses will remain shut. Ambulances and emergency work will be exempted from the Bandh. Also, 250 farmers from Gujarat will be coming to Delhi to join the protest,” he added.

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