Government not repealing laws, say farmers after meeting Amit Shah
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday met a group of farmer leaders in Delhi amid intense protests by the agricultural community over the government's new farm laws. After the meeting, a farmer leader said that the government is not ready to meet the farmers' demand for a complete rollback of the contentious laws, adding that Wednesday's crucial talks have also been called off.
Farmers refuse to participate in tomorrow's meeting
"No meeting will be held between farmers and the government tomorrow," All India Kisan Sabha General Secretary Hannan Mollah told reporters, "The government is not ready to take back the farm laws." "(Shah) has said that a proposal will be given to the farmer leaders tomorrow," Mollah said adding that the farmers will hold a meeting at Singhu border at noon on Wednesday.
Meeting was shifted to Pusa institute campus to ditch press
The meeting between Shah and the farmer leaders was initially supposed to be held at 7 pm at the Home Minister's official residence. However, according to NDTV, the venue was shifted to the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) campus in Pusa to avoid the media glare. The talks indicated that the government is engaging with the farmers at the highest level.
What are the farmers protesting about?
For months, farmers have protested the three farm laws passed in September. The protests intensified in November-end as thousands of farmers from several states reached Delhi, braving a heavy police crackdown. Farmers fear that by allowing trade outside APMC mandis, the laws will weaken the mandis and they would be deprived of Minimum Support Prices (MSPs), leaving them vulnerable to exploitation by big corporations.
Five rounds of talks failed to end deadlock
The government has held five rounds of talks with the farmers thus far. The last round—held on Friday—had lasted seven hours. While the farmers stand firm on their demand for a complete rollback, the government is reportedly unlikely to do so. Instead, the government has proposed to amend the laws and has also said that it is willing to give written assurance on MSPs.
Complete rollback: For farmers, there is 'no midway'
Before the meeting with Shah, farmer leader Rudru Singh Mansa told reporters at the Delhi-Haryana Singhu border, "There is no midway. We will demand just 'yes' or 'no' from the Home Minister at today's meeting." The Singhu border is one of the key protest sites.
Farmers had called nationwide strike today
Earlier on Tuesday, the protesting farmers had also led a nationwide strike or "Bharat bandh" which lasted from 11 am to 3 pm. Farmers in several states had blocked roads as part of the strike, which drew the support of railway, transport, and trade unions. Several political parties—such as the Congress, AAP, DMK, Shiv Sena, etc.—had also backed calls for the nationwide strike.