Farmers' Protest: Union Minister Calls Talks 'Positive', Next Round on 18 Feb

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann also joined the meeting in Chandigarh.

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Discussions between farmer union leaders and the Centre's representatives ended late on Thursday, 15 February without a resolution, but Union Minister Arjun Munda said that they were "positive".

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had also joined the meeting at Chandigarh's Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration.

During the meeting, the farmers raised several issues, including that of X accounts of farmer leaders and organisations being blocked. "They (the ministers) have assured that all social media accounts will be restored," farmer leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal said, as per news agency PTI.

The next round of discussions has been scheduled for Sunday, 18 February. Meanwhile, the protesting farmers will stay put at border points in Punjab and Haryana amid their 'Delhi Chalo' protest.

The first two meetings held between the two sides were "inconclusive" after which the farmers began their protest march on Tuesday this week.

  1. What Are the Key Demands of Farmers?

    Meanwhile, protesting farmers on Thursday sat on railway tracks and blocked trains at Patiala's Rajpura Railway Station in a bid to put pressure on the Central government to accept their demands.

    Extending support to the 2024 farmers' protest, Haryana's Bharat Kisan Union (BKU) Charuni said that a tractor parade is set to take place in all the tehsils of the state on 17 February, followed by a meeting of several bodies on 18 February.

    Furthermore, BKU leader Rakesh Tikait said that a 'Gramin Bharat Bandh' has been called on Friday, 16 February. "Farmers should not go to their farms and work tomorrow. A new line of thinking will emerge out of this. Labourers will also go on strike. This will show how many people are participating in the movement," Tikait was quoted as saying by PTI.

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Farmers' Protest: The Story So Far

Several farmers had been detained by authorities during the 'Delhi Chalo' protest march on Tuesday and Wednesday near the Punjab-Haryana Shambhu border.

The police resorted to using tear gas, firing rubber bullets, and spraying farmers with water cannons to disperse the crowd. They had even set up barbed wire and barricades to prevent them from moving forward.

A number of farmers have been using makeshift arrangements to protect themselves from rubber bullets and tear gas shells. These measures include using shields made of road signs and multani mitti coating as well as applying wet packs.

Drones have been deployed by police to surveil and drop tear gas shells against the protesting farmers. However, purported visuals recently showed the protesting farmers trying to foil this attempt by flying kites.

Several Opposition leaders including Congress' Rahul Gandhi, TMC's Mamata Banerjee, SP's Akhilesh Yadav, and others took to X to slam the government over their treatment of farmers. The Congress also assured a legal guarantee of MSP, one of the key demands of the farmers, if the party was to be elected to power in the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Meanwhile, the social media handles of dozens of farmer union leaders and organisations have been blocked on the directions of the Centre. An internet shutdown has also been imposed in various parts of Haryana, and the same has been extended till 17 February.

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