Farmers threaten to shut petrol-pumps, malls if January-4 talks fail
Farmer unions protesting the three newly-enacted central farm laws on Friday threatened to shut all malls and petrol pumps in Haryana if the Centre fails to meet their demands during the next, seventh round of talks on January 4. They said protests would be intensified if the government doesn't agree to repeal the contentious laws and provide a legal guarantee for MSP. Here's more.
In the previous, sixth round of negotiations on December 30, the farmer unions and the Centre reportedly arrived at an agreement over two of the farmers' concerns. They include the rise in power tariffs and penalties for stubble burning. However, the deadlock of the farmers' main contentious issues such as scrapping of the three farm laws and MSP (minimum support price) legal guarantee continues.
The three farm laws that the protesting farmers are opposing include the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. Thousands of farmers have been protesting at different borders of Delhi for over a month now.
The farmers' main demands include repealing the three contentious farm laws, ensuring that the MSP is legally guaranteed, excluding farmers from penalties under the Commission for the Air Quality Management ordinance, and withdrawal of the proposed Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020 to protect farmers' interests.
After the sixth round of talks, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that at least 50% resolution was reached with farmers with mutual agreement on two of the four issues on their agenda. On Friday, several farm unions' representatives addressed a press conference at the Singhu Border protest site. They, however, said that only 5% of their issues have been discussed so far.
Meanwhile, another farmer leader Yudhveer Singh said if the Centre is thinking it can make farmers leave from the protest sites, then it is mistaken. "It seems that the government is taking the farmers lightly. They managed to disperse the Shaheen Bagh protestors and now they are thinking to do the same with us, but such a day will never come," he said.
The All Indian Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) issued a statement criticizing the "pro-corporate intellectuals discussing the compromise formula." It said farmers "will not settle down for less than repealing of the three laws" that "hand over agriculture markets, farming processes, farmers land, and food security to the corporates." "The government...declared acceptance of two minor issues to cover its adamant position," it added.
At the press conference, Swaraj India founder Yogendra Yadav stated, "If our demands are not accepted, we will hold [a tractor] march at Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway on January 6." "The claims that 50% of the issues have been resolved are false. Our two main demands—three farm bills should be scrapped and legal guarantee on Minimum Support Price (MSP) are still pending," he added.