‘Farmers Are Dying Everyday, Why Would We Be Rigid?’ Kisan Unions
“Government wants to wear us down, divide us, malign us,” says Sarwan Singh Pandher, farm union leader.
Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj
Even after seven rounds of talks between the Centre and farm unions, there seems to be no agreement on the three farm laws that have sparked protests across the country.
The latest meeting between the farm unions and the Centre, represented by Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash on 4 January, ended on an inconclusive note.
To understand what is causing the deadlock, The Quint spoke to Sarwan Singh Pandher, general secretary of the Kisaan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, who had attended the meeting with the ministers at Delhi's Vigyan Bhawan. Here’s what he said:
What Happened at the Meeting on 4 January?
From what I understand from what the ministers said, I don't think the government is willing to concede anything. The minister (Tomar) said after the meeting 'it takes two hands to clap'. Problem is that government has both the hands and it has hidden both of them. We don't have the hands or power to decide anything. All we can do is protest, which is what we are doing. If the government repeals the three laws, good. But if they don't, we will have to intensify the agitation.
In the meeting, the government called the three laws "revolutionary". So this should give you an idea of what kind of meeting it must have been.
As it is, the three ministers reached 35 minutes late. Then they disappeared after lunch for nearly two hours. The entire exercise was a waste of time. We wasted 4-6 hours.
The lunch break was at 3:30 then we reconvened at 5:10. We don’t know where they had gone. They seem to have been talking to someone. Their tone was heated initially but later they softened it.
I don’t think anything is being achieved through this dialogue. The national media says, farmers are being stubborn. How can people who are requesting and appealing, be rigid? Two or three of our people are dying everyday, this movement is going on with great difficulty.
Why Are Unions Firm on Repeal of Three Farm Laws?
Our proposal is what it was earlier - repeal the three farm laws and bring a law to guarantee Minimum Support Prices. This is what happened in the meeting - we kept saying 'repeal the laws', they kept repeating that 'this is not possible, this is a law passed in Parliament and signed by the President".
They even told us to appeal to the Supreme Court. They told us to accept amendments. We have already listed out in detail what the shortcomings are in the laws.
Response to Centre’s Allegation that Farmers Are Being ‘Rigid’
It is wrong for the government to say (that it has moved ten steps forward). They haven’t moved even one step. All they are trying is to divert us from our core demand of repealing the three laws.
What is the Next Course of Action?
I feel that the government is still underestimating the agitation. We would need to intensify the agitation and widen its scope. I think the government is forcing us to show our power.
The government wants to wear us down, they want to divide the movement or malign the movement. This is the negative policy that the government is following.
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