Farmers demand Parliament session to repeal laws; threaten intensified protest
Farmers protesting against the new agricultural laws passed by the Centre on Wednesday demanded a special session of the Parliament to repeal the laws. The development comes a day after a three-member team of Union Ministers had failed to get farmer groups to call off their protest. Another round of talks between the two parties is due to be held on Thursday.
Darshan Pal, the President of the Krantikari Kisan Union, told reporters on Wednesday, "The Centre should call a special session of Parliament to repeal the three farm laws." Pal also accused the government of dividing farmer organizations. He further said, "We call for the burning of effigies throughout the country to protest against the Modi government and corporate houses on December 5."
Lok Sangharsh Morcha's Pratibha Shinde also said that the organization will burn effigies in every district of Maharashtra on Thursday and in Gujarat on Saturday to seek the withdrawal of the new farm laws. Another farmer leader Gurnam Singh Chadoni said more steps will be taken to press for their demands if the government does not withdraw the laws.
Before Pal's presser, leaders of around 32 farmer organizations had gathered for a meeting. Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait had also attended the meeting at the Delhi-Haryana Singhu border. Pal said, "Tikait told us he's with us. We're together in this struggle." As the protests grow, a band of farmers from Madhya Pradesh's Gwalior also started for Delhi to join the demonstrations.
Ahead of talks with farmer representations on Thursday, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, "I appeal to the farmers that the laws are in their interest and the reforms have been done after a long wait, but if they have any objection to it then we are ready to address their concerns." The BJP-led government has maintained that the laws would benefit farmers.
In Haryana, a state ruled by the BJP-JJP alliance, independent MLA Sombir Sangwan withdrew his support to the state government. Ajay Singh Chautala of Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala's JJP urged the government to come up with a quick and unanimous solution. Meanwhile, Punjab Youth Congress workers—protesting against police brutality on farmers—were detained for gheraoing Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar's residence in Chandigarh.
The All-India Motor Transport Congress—an umbrella body of goods' vehicles operators representing 10 million truckers—has called a strike from December 8 to back the farmers' protest. AIMTC president Kultaran Singh Atwal said all vehicles will shut operations across Delhi, Haryana, UP, Punjab, Himachal, and J&K, impacting the movement of essential goods. He also threatened a nationwide strike if the government fails to meet demands.
The Bar Council condemned the farm laws that have sparked protests, senior advocate HS Phoolka said, adding that they will write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to repeal the laws. The farmers who had shifted their protest to the government-designated site in Burari—as requested by the Home Minister—expressed displeasure that they were not invited to hold talks with the government, despite meeting their demands.
All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee convener Sardar VM Singh said, "It shows that the government will talk to those who take the law into their own hands. Now that the government has deceived farmers of UP and Uttarakhand, there's no point staying in Burari."
Farmers fear that they will be deprived of guaranteed minimum prices after Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) mandis weaken with the implementation of the new laws. They are concerned that this would leave them vulnerable to exploitation by big corporations. On Tuesday, 35 farmers representatives had met with the government, however, the talks remained inconclusive. Another round of talks will be held on Thursday.