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Farmers' protest | Protests continue amid stalemate over farm laws

Farmers protest entered the 20th day of dharna against anti-farm laws at GT Karnal Road, in New Delhi on December 15, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Protesting farmer leaders have threatened to close the Delhi-Noida border crossing at Chilla on Wednesday if three contentious agricultural reform laws are not repealed. On the 20th day of protest, both the protestors and the Centre reiterated their positions and dialed up the rhetoric, but made no concrete efforts to resume negotiations. 

At a press conference on the Singhu border on Tuesday, farmer leaders said they were “determined to win, no matter what”.

Also read: First time in decades laws framed to benefit farmers, workers: PM Modi

“The government is saying they will not repeal these laws, but we say that we will make them do it,” said Jagjeet Singh Dallewal of the Bharatiya Kisan Union-Ekta, a Punjab farmers group. The Delhi-Noida border crossing at Chilla will be closed at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, if the Centre continues to close the door for farmers, he said.

BKU-Tikait group general secretary Yudhvir Singh had harsh words for Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself.

Also read: Govt. talks to breakaway leaders as farmers hold hunger strikes

“We voted for this Prime Minister, but now he is not willing to hear us or talk to us... All farmers now recognise that we made a mistake in voting for him,” he said. Responding to the PM’s allegation that the protests were being funded by foreign money, Mr. Singh asked how the hard-earned money sent by the children of farmers who are abroad could be counted as foreign money. The Prime Minister himself came to power using Gujarati NRI money, he said.

Also read: Govt. talks to breakaway leaders as farmers hold hunger strikes

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar met again with farmers of the BKU (Kisan) faction who support the farm laws, and claimed that most of the agricultural community recognised the benefits of the laws. He said the government is willing to continue dialogue with “genuine farm unions” and is willing to find a solution with an open mind.

However, dashing the hopes of those demanding a legal guarantee for minimum support prices, the Minister added that MSP is an “administrative decision and will continue as it is.”

Also read: AIKSCC evicts convenor, who is willing to hold separate talks with Centre

Noting that 20 farmers participating in the agitation have died of various causes so far, protestors said a Shraddhanjali Diwas, or homage day would be observed in honour of these “martyrs” on December 20, 2020. 

Two farmers were killed and one sustained injuries in a hit-and-run case in Haryana’s Karnal on the Delhi-Ambala Highway in the early hours of Tuesday when a tractor-trolley carrying them was hit by an unidentified truck. The farmers were returning to Punjab from the Singhu border protest site. The deceased have been identified as Gurpreet, 24, and Labh Singh, 50.

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Printable version | Apr 23, 2021 1:51:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/farmers-protest-farmers-harden-stance-to-block-chilla-border-on-wednesday/article33337819.ece

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