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Farmers' Protest: Another round of talks today; Govt expects positive outcome, farmers want repeal of laws

While the government said it is hopeful of ending the impasse in today’s meeting, farmers are adamant that nothing less than repeal of the three farm laws will end their protest.

January 15, 2021 / 02:13 PM IST
Farmers, most of them from Punjab and Haryana, want the new agri farm laws scrapped.

Farmers, most of them from Punjab and Haryana, want the new agri farm laws scrapped.

The protesting farmers will hold their ninth round of talks with the representatives of the Union government on January 15.

This will be the first meeting between the two sides after the January 12 Supreme Court order putting a stay on the implementation of the three farm laws until further orders.

The top court also set up a committee of experts that will talk to both sides and suggest changes where ever needed in the enactments as opposed by the farmers. The farmers have, however, refused to appear before the committee.

While the government said it is hopeful of ending the impasse in today’s meeting, farmers are adamant that nothing less than the repeal of the three farm laws will end their protest.

Follow our LIVE BLOG on Farmers' Protest here

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“We will attend the meeting with the government. But we do not want to speak with the SC committee. It is a ploy to divert attention from our main demand of repeal of the laws,” Balbir Singh Rajewal, a member of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, a joint forum of protesting farmers’ unions said.

The last round of talks between the two sides on January 8 hit a deadlock with the government refusing to repeal the laws.

On January 12, the Supreme Court put on hold the implementation of the three farm laws and announced the setting up of a committee of agri- experts.

Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar who is leading the government’s side during negotiations was hopeful “We are sensitive to all problems of the farmers,” he said.

Read | Farm bills have potential to represent significant step forward for agricultural reforms in India: IMF

The government is expected to try and convince the farmers to appear before the committee. The meeting will take place at 12 noon at Vigyan Bhawan. The first meeting of the SC-appointed committee is scheduled to be held on January 19.

The farmers have alleged that all the four members of the SC-appointed committee were pro-laws.

Bhupinder Singh Mann, the national president of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), one of the four members, recused himself from the SC-appointed committee. Shetkari Sanghatana (Maharashtra) president Anil Ghanwat, International Food Policy Research Institute's Pramod Kumar Joshi, and agriculture economist Ashok Gulati are on the panel, apart from Mann.

The farmers have said that they will go ahead with the scheduled peaceful tractor march on Republic Day.

Also read | By staying the implementation of the three farm laws, the SC has sent out the wrong message

The two sides had arrived at some common ground in the sixth round of talks held on December 30 with the government agreeing on two of the four demands of farmers – removing stubble burning penalty on farmers and withdrawing provisions in the draft Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020, which intend to change the mode of subsidy payment to farmers.

Thousands of farmers, primarily from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at several Delhi border points for 51 days, demanding the repeal of the laws, and a legal guarantee on minimum support prices (MSP) for their crops.
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