Farmers’ protest | Direct dialogue will continue, says union leader

Farmers leaders arrives to attend a meeting with Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi on Friday. January 15, 2021.   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Both the government and farmer union leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to continue the direct dialogue process, according to a union leader who participated in the ninth round of talks with Central Ministers.

This is their first meeting after the Supreme Court ordered a stay on the implementation of the three contentious farm reform laws and set up a committee to resolve the issue. Farmer unions have refused to participate in the proceedings of the court-appointed committee but were apprehensive that the Centre would use the court’s order as an excuse to end the direct negotiation process. However, it has now been agreed that this process will continue.

Earlier in the morning, before the meeting began, Mr. Tomar told journalists that the Central government welcomed the Supreme Court’s order and will present its views before the committee appointed by the court. When asked about the farmer unions’ refusal to appear before the committee, he said that the court was the supreme institution in the country and everyone had a responsibility to commit to follow its directions.

Deadlock continues

Despite this agreement, the deadlock over the farmers’ main demand continues. During the pre-lunch session, the protesting unions reiterated their demand for a full repeal of the three laws, while Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar again argued for amendments to certain problematic clauses alone.

During the first session, farmer unions also raised allegations of repressive action taken by the Home Ministry and State police against people associated with the farmers’ movement, as well as against those not associated with it, one of the farmer leaders said. The unions asked the Centre to address and prevent such repression. They urged that the cases filed against protesting farmers in Haryana be withdrawn as well, said another leader.

The session also included a discussion on the Essential Commodities Amendment Act, 2020.

As has been their practice, union leaders had lunch prepared at a langar, or Sikh community kitchen, rather than the food provided at Vigyan Bhavan. The meeting is expected to resume after the break.

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Printable version | Mar 1, 2021 4:07:39 AM |

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