Farmers Protesting Against Farm Bills (File image)
Farmer leaders on Saturday said the protesting unions stand firm on their demand of a complete repeal of the three agri laws and asserted that they are ready for talks with the government, but that should be held without any condition. Earlier in the day, thousands of farmers blocked the KundliManesarPalwal (KMP) Expressway at some places in Haryana to mark the completion of 100 days of their agitation at the Delhi borders.
Darshan Pal, a senior member of the Samkyukta Kisan Morcha which is spearheading the going protest, said farmer unions stand firm on the demand of repeal of three agri laws. "Since the beginning of our agitation, our demand remains the same which is the repeal of three new agricultural laws. We are ready to resume talks with the government, but it should be held without any precondition," Pal told PTI.
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In January, the government had proposed to suspend the three contentious farm laws for 1-1.5 years and set up a joint committee to find an amicable solution in the interest of the farming community, which the protesting unions had then rejected it. Another senior farmer leader Kulwant Singh Sandhu said farm unions have never said "no" to talks with the central government, adding that their stand on talks as well as demands have been the same from the beginning.
He said the Samkyukta Kisan Morcha has called a meeting on March 9 to decide the next course of action to intensify their ongoing agitation. "Everyday, more people are joining the farmers' protest. There are over 1.25 lakh people at the four border points here in the capital itself," Sandhu claimed.
Abhimanyu Kohar, another farmer leader, said farmers are always ready to holds talks with the government. "In democracy, any solution would come only through talks. But those in power should send us a formal invite — just like they did during the earlier rounds of talks. Talks with terms and conditions from the government's end is not a solution and won't serve any purpose," Kohar told PTI.
During the blockade of KMP expressway on Saturday, farmers holding black flags and wearing black armbands and some women protesters with black 'dupattas' shouted slogans against the BJP-led government for not acceding to their demands. Protesters in Sonipat and Jhajjar districts and some other places brought their tractor-trolleys and other vehicles and parked them in the middle of the KMP Expressway in some stretches.
Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at the Delhi border points — Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur — for over three months, demanding the repeal of farm laws and a legal guarantee on the minimum support price for their crops. The protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporations.
However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring better opportunities to farmers and introduce new technologies in agriculture.