MSP Law, Stubble Burning Punishment Repealed: Farmers List Demands
In another round of talks with the government, the farmers have submitted a written five-point set of demands.
The Centre on Thursday, 3 December, met the representatives for farmers’ unions who are protesting in and around the national capital against the new farm laws, wherein 34 farmer leaders put out a five-point set of demands that seeks to frame a specific law on Minimum Support Price (MSP) and end the punishment provision for stubble burning.
The next meeting will be held on 5 December, ANI reported.
In the written five-point set of demands, one of the key demands is the repeal of three contentious farm laws passed in September during the Monsoon Session of Parliament. It also raises objections about the upcoming Electricity (Amendment) Act, 2020.
Along with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Union Minister Piyush Goyal, the meeting was also attended by Union Minister of State for Commerce Som Prakash and Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal.
The farmers emphasised that the provision to register a case for stubble burning should be ended, and asked why the government wasn’t ready to give them “written assurance” on MSP despite its earlier statements that MSP will continue.
The farmer union representatives emphasised that a new law on MSP should be framed in a special session of Parliament, demanding that it must guarantee them MSP not only now but in the future as well.
The farmer leaders said: “Let us assume that MSP will continue but the procurement would stop. The MSP will have no meaning then.”
‘Govt Has No Ego, Will Consider All Demands’: Tomar After Meet
Tomar, addressing the media after the meeting, said that the government has no ego and is considering the demands of the farmers in the previous meet and today’s meet with an open mind.
“The government has no ego. The discussion with farmers was held with an open mind. The farmers are concerned that the new laws will end APMCs,” he said as quoted by ANI.
“In the new Act, it has been provided that farmers can take their grievances to the SDM court. The farmers feel that it is a lower court and that they should be allowed to go to a higher court. The government will consider this demand,” he said.
Tomar further said that the government will also consider their concerns over an Ordinance on stubble burning and the Act on electricity.
“The government will contemplate over further strengthening the APMC and increasing its usage. The new laws lay down provisions for private mandis outside the purview of APMC. So, we will also contemplate about having an equal tax for private mandis as well under the APMC Act,” Tomar said.
He further reiterated that the MSP system will continue.
‘Talks Made Little Progress, But...’: Farmers Remain Adamant
The farmers said that the talks made little progress but all the issues are yet to be discussed.
“The government has given indications over MSP. It seems that their stand over MSP will be fine. The talks have made a little progress,” Rakesh Tikait, Spokesperson, Bharatiya Kisan Union, was quoted by ANI as saying after the meet.
“The issue is about the complete roll back of laws. Not only one but discussions will also be held on several issues. Farmers want that the laws be taken back. Government wants to talk about MSP and amendment to the Acts,” he said.
Harjinder Singh Tanda, Azaad Kisan Sangharsh Committee told ANI that the talks were held in a conducive atmosphere.
“Talks have made little progress. In the half time, it seemed that today's meeting will yield no result. In the second half it seemed that there is pressure of farmers agitation as well as on the government. Talks were held in a conducive atmosphere,” he said.
“We are hopeful. The laws are wrong. In the next meeting, we will put pressure on the government. They will have to say that they will take back the laws. In my opinion, it will be finalised in the meeting day after tomorrow,” he added.
Farmers’ leader Baldev Singh Sirsa said that they don't want amendments as being proposed by the government, but withdrawal of the laws.
Giving an example of sugarcane procurement, the farmers' organisations objected to contract farming and pointed out its drawbacks.
The 5-point set of demands came two hours after the ongoing meeting which started around 12:30 pm at Vigyan Bhawan.
In the last meeting, the farmers’ representatives had unanimously turned down the Centre’s proposal of a special committee to thrash out the differences and resolve concerns over the farm laws.
The Bharatiya Kisan Union, the Bharatiya Kisan Sanyukta Morcha and the Krantikari Kisan Union are among the more than 34 farm union representatives who put the demand before the Centre to call a special session of Parliament and frame a law on MSP.
Roadblock on Ending Impasse; Earlier Talks Inconclusive
“The government is constantly discussing the issues with the farmers. Today is the fourth round of talks and I'm hoping for a positive outcome,” Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told ANI after meeting Home Minister Amit Shah earlier.
Thousands of protesters have blocked five Delhi borders connecting Chandigarh, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, crippling the chain of supply to the national capital.
The Singhu and Tikri borders, as well as Chilla and Ghazipur borders, have now been hosting these multitudes for over a week. Hundreds of farmers have almost blocked entry and exit out of the national capital.
The fourth round of meetings with the farmer leaders were held at Vigyan Bhawan on Thursday after the earlier talks remained inconclusive on 1 December.
A breakthrough was not expected in a single meeting, sources had told IANS, in view of the government firmly standing by the laws it has called "historic reforms" in the farm sector.
The farmers though have hardened their stance, warning that if on Thursday “the last chance” for the government to take a decision on the laws was not taken, the stir could intensify further.
The meeting between the government and the farmer representatives began after a detailed discussion among the Home Minister, Agriculture Minister and the Consumer Affairs Minister at the Home Minister's residence.
The government is still holding on to its stance of not rolling back the three farm laws which farmers allege are "anti-farm" and "black laws".
The three laws are: Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
AIKSCC Announces Nationwide Protests, Mass Burning of Effigies
All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) announced massive all India Protest Campaigns to repeal the new farm laws, electricity bills and resisting corporate takeover of agriculture and food security of India.
The National Woking Group of AIKSCC announced a mass burning of effigies of Narendra Modi government and Corporate giants Ambani and Adani on 5 December 2020. It is expected that constituents of AIKSCC shall gather to carry out this call in more than 5000 locations in India.
In addition, AIKSCC extended full support to and expressed solidarity with the ongoing campaigns being held all over India.
(With inputs from ANI and IANS.)
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