Farmers say will "make" government repeal laws, road blockade planned
Toughening their stand, farmers' leaders on Tuesday declared that they will make the Centre, led by Bharatiya Janata Party, repeal three agricultural reforms. The agitating farmers, camping at the borders of Delhi for over two weeks, have planned to block the Chilla border between Noida and National Capital today. They also rejected the latest proposal. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said farmers are being misled.
"We are determined to win no matter what"
Speaking to media from the Singhu border, the epicenter of the protests, farmers' leader Jagjeet Dallewal, said the "fight" has come to a stage where they are "determined to win." "The government is saying 'we won't repeal these laws', we are saying we will make you do it," he said. However, he added that the farmers are not running away from negotiations.
Leader said farmers willing to give negotiation a chance
Dallewal explained that for them to soften their stance, the government has to come up with a concrete proposal. The government and farmers are at loggerheads over three laws, which the former thinks will swell their income by allowing them to sell their produce to anyone. The agitating farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, claim the reforms will leave them at the mercy of corporates.
20 farmers have died since the agitation started
The agitation in chilly winter has also taken a toll on farmers, many of whom are elderly. Till now, 20 farmers have lost their lives. One of their leaders, Rishipal, asserted that on average one farmer has died every day since the agitation began. To honor the "martyrs," Sunday, December 20, will be observed as 'Homage Day' (Shraddhanjali Diwas) across the country.
In interview, Tomar clarified government won't repeal laws
However, Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar made it clear that the government will not repeal the laws. He said they have a "303-seat mandate" not just to remain in power, but to implement change. Reminding of the steps taken in the first term by PM Modi, he said people gave him more seats in the 2019 elections because they want reforms.
Government willing to talk on even Electricity Bill: Tomar
Tomar reiterated that the government was willing to discuss those provisions of laws that have troubled the farmers. "But they do not want to discuss the laws on a clause-by-clause basis...During the discussions, I realized they had certain other worries related to stubble-burning and the Electricity Bill, which too we are willing to discuss," he told Indian Express.
Yesterday, PM Modi said opposition was needling farmers
The farmers declared they are ready to fight till the end, on the same day that PM Modi blamed the opposition for instigating them. "The agriculture reforms that have taken place are exactly what farmer bodies and even opposition parties have been asking over the years," he said in Gujarat yesterday. He added the government was mindful of farmers and will keep assuring them.
Petitions linked to agitation will be heard by Supreme Court
Today, the Supreme Court will hear a number of petitions linked to the protest. Citing the coronavirus outbreak, one of the pleas sought the removal of farmers from the site. Another plea wants SC to direct the Centre to consider farmers' demands and also said NHRC should probe if the protesters have been assaulted. A third plea wants farmers to be allowed into Delhi.