Farmers' protest: Samyukt Kisan Morcha puts off decision on the fate of agitation until Wednesday

Won't accept Centre's condition that criminal charges against farmers will be dropped after the agitation is called off, says farmer leader

New Delhi, December 7

No decision has been taken yet on calling off the farmers’ protest, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, which is spearheading the stir, said on Tuesday and demanded clarification on certain points, in the government’s proposal, including on the precondition set for withdrawal of “fake” cases against farmers.

Farmer leaders, who are members of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), after a meeting also said they will meet again at 2 PM on Wednesday to decide the future course of action.

Kulwant Singh Sandhu, a prominent farmer leader, has claimed that a consensus has been arrived at and “nearly all demands” have been met.

However, the SKM said there was no consensus yet on ending the protest, which was triggered last year after the government enacted three farm laws.

“SKM confirms to have received a written draft proposal from the government of India. The proposal was constructively discussed by the farm leaders at the SKM meeting at the Singhu Border today. The morcha will seek further clarifications on a few points of the government’s proposal, and will reconvene at 2 pm tomorrow for further discussion. The SKM hopes for a positive response from the government,” the umbrella body of over 40 farm unions said in a statement following the meeting.

Farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal said the government’s proposal said that it will form a committee to look into the demand for legal guarantee on minimum support price (MSP) for crops and the panel will include farmer organisations outside the SKM, government officials and representatives of states.                    “We had objections to it … we do not want other committees who have been against our demands since the start to be part of the panel on MSP. We have demanded the government give a clarification in this regard,” Rajewal said.

“We are also against the condition set by the government that farm unions should lift the protest for the withdrawal of fake cases against farmers,” he said, adding the cases include those registered in connection with the January 26 violence.

Another farmer leader said they received the government’s proposal on Tuesday afternoon.

“We discussed it in the meeting. We had certain objections to some points in the proposal. Our members have given some suggestions and these have been sent to the government,” he said.

The SKM had formed a five-member panel on Saturday to hold talks with the government on the pending demands of the protesting farmers, including a legal guarantee on MSP for crops, compensation to the kin of the farmers who died during the agitation against three agriculture laws and the withdrawal of cases against the protesters.

The five-member panel of the SKM has farmer leaders Balbir Singh Rajewal, Ashok Dhawle, Shiv Kumar Kakka, Gurnam Singh Chaduni and Yudhvir Singh.

“We have sent our proposal to the government and their response will deliberated upon further. Then we want a letter from MHA (ministry of home affairs) on their letter head with the sign of the home minister,” Kakka said.

Farmer leader Kulwant Singh Sandhu said protesting farmer unions have reached a consensus on the future course of the agitation as nearly all their demands have been met, but a formal announcement of the decision will be made on Wednesday.

“Nearly all demands raised by us have been met.... Letter (from the government with assurances on farmers’ demands) has been received. A consensus has been reached, the final decision will be announced tomorrow,” Sandhu told reporters after the SKM meeting.

Another farmer leader and SKM member said the agitation is likely to be called off on Wednesday as there have been some positive responses from the government side on the farmers’ demands.

However, a final decision will be announced after another meeting of SKM on Wednesday, he said.

On November 29, a bill was passed in Parliament to repeal the three contentious farm laws, one of the main demands of the protesting farmers.

But the stalemate continues with the protesters demanding that the government fulfil their other demands too. — PTI


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