Deferment of new laws not part of demand: farmers

Farmers protesting at the Singhu border in Delhi on Thursday.  

The farmers at the Singhu border, while rejecting the Centre’s proposal of suspending the three controversial farm laws for 18 months, said the deferment was not their demand and reiterated a full repeal.

The protesters from Delhi’s neighbouring States have been at the city’s borders for nearly two months now, demanding a legal guarantee of Minimum Support Price and a repeal of the three agriculture laws brought in by the Centre.

Several protesters on Thursday alleged that the proposal to suspend the laws for a certain period of time was the government’s tool to appease the farmers ahead of Punjab Assembly polls in 2022.

Daljit Singh, 61, from Punjab’s Patiala, on Wednesday, said: “Almost three decades ago, a similar protest had taken place in Punjab that lasted for a month. It has taken these many years for such a large movement to take place. It is not easy to gather tens of thousands of people. By proposing things like deferment of the implementation of the laws, the government is simply hoping that people would calm down. The Centre also has to keep in mind the upcoming elections.”

Stating that the government was “wary” of the proposed tractor rally on Republic Day, Mr. Singh said: “They [government] are worried about the rally. This is not just a small movement. Often political leaders have no clue about what farming actually entails and instead they end up making policies for profit only. Every five years, they come to us with folded hands, asking for votes. After the elections, they make the citizens fold their hands and beg to them for basic rights.”

Gurjeet Singh, another farmer from Patiala said: “What will the government do in 18 months? If this proposal is accepted then the scenario will end up being the same after one and a half years. We are not going to go back... the government has to accept our demands.”

Several farmers like Sikander Singh from Punjab’s Moga district, were of the opinion that “one could not depend on what the government is saying.”

“The government and the Prime Minister say a lot of things but we all know how much truth there is. How can we suddenly accept this proposal of deferment by 18 months? We cannot accept anything apart from the laws being repealed,” he said.

Tractors on the way

The agitating farmers also said thousands of tractors were on their way to the national capital for the upcoming Republic Day parade.

Amritpal Singh, a farmer from Punjab’s Rajgarh village, said, “We reached the Singhu border on Thursday and on our way, we saw thousands of tractors on their way to the border. Each village is sending 10 tractors each at least and they are even bringing reinforcements including ration.”

Many of the farmers, who have been at the Singhu border since the first day of the protest, said even if the farm unions accepted the government’s proposal, those who had assembled for the agitation were not ready to leave without the laws being repealed.

Sukhjeet Singh, a farmer from Punjab’s Patiala district said, “We will fight for our rights before dying. What began on November 26 as a march to Delhi will culminate with thousands participating in the parade on January 26,” said Mr. Singh.

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Printable version | Mar 3, 2021 5:42:57 AM |

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