Ruchika M Khanna
Chandigarh, February 8
Ahead of the February 13 “Delhi Chalo” agitation announced by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha, the two-hour-long talks between a three-member Central team and leaders of farmer unions made “some headway” with the BJP-led Centre agreeing to “some of their demands and forming a four-member committee to look into the remaining”.
The Centre has agreed to give a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to those injured in Lakhimpur Kheri, cancel cases registered against farmers during the year-long agitation against the three farm laws in 2020-21, give compensation and jobs to family members of farmers killed during the agitation, and ensure availability of good quality seeds.
Rs 10 Lakh for those hurt in Lakhimpur Kheri
- Govt to give Rs 10 lakh relief to those injured in Lakhimpur Kheri
- Cancel cases filed against farmers during stir against farm laws
- Give relief, jobs to families of farmers killed during agitation
- Ensure availability of good quality seeds
Though farmer leaders — Jagjit Singh Dallewal of the SKM (Non-Political) and Swaran Singh Pandher of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee – didn’t announce a roll back the February 13 agitation, they will reportedly be going back to other leaders to discuss the Centre’s offer. Highly placed sources told The Tribune that the Central team, comprising Union ministers Piyush Goyal, Arjun Munda and Nityanand Rai, offered to form a high-level committee to discuss all demands made by farmer leaders. The committee, comprising power secretary, secretary, food and public distribution, agriculture secretary and home secretary, will hold a meeting with farmer leaders before February 13 and look into demands like legal guarantee for MSP, fixing prices of crops in accordance with Swaminathan Committee report, and waiver of farm loans among others.
The farmers also demanded they be kept out of the purview of the Electricity Amendment Bill. Goyal reportedly said the Bill was pending with a standing committee of Parliament.
Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, who was present at the meeting, said, “I was there as a lawyer of the farmers. I had requested the Centre to send a committee here to resolve the long-pending issues of the farmers. Talks were held in a very cordial environment. This was the first meeting aimed at resolving issues.”
Farmer unions in Punjab and Haryana have threatened to march to Delhi and camp there to press for their demands. Keeping in mind how the movement against the three farm laws had created a wave of sympathy for farmers and an anti- Centre sentiment, the BJP-led Centre seemed unwilling to take any chances now. The Union ministers had arrived here in the afternoon and held a meeting with a team of officers at a hotel in Sector 17, before proceeding for a meeting with farmer leaders at Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration. The farmer leaders first gathered at Punjab Bhawan before they were taken for the meeting, which started at 7.25 pm.
“More than 200 farmer unions from across the country will be participating in the protest. We are prepared for a long fight, which explains why the government has offered to sit with us,” said SKM (Non-Political) leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal, before the meeting. Pandher said they were protesting only because the Centre had not fulfilled its promises made to them when the agitation over three farm laws was called off.
- Legal guarantee for minimum support price and complete waiver of farm debt.
- Fixing prices of crops in accordance with the Swaminathan Committee report.
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