Farmers’ protest | Ready for talks, says Tomar after Tikait’s threat

Union Minister of Agricultural and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar at a function of the 2nd anniversary of 'Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Scheme', in New Delhi, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021   | Photo Credit: PTI

Faced with farm union leader Rakesh Tikait’s threat of a larger tractor rally, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has reiterated that the Centre is ready to hold talks with the protesting farm unions if they respond to its offer to suspend three contentious farm reform laws for an 18 month period.

Thousands of protesting farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have been camped at Delhi’s borders for almost three months, demanding the repeal of the Central farm laws. Talks with the government broke down on January 22. During a tractor rally on January 26, a section of the farmers broke off from the rally route and engaged in violent clashes with the police.

On Tuesday, speaking at a mahapanchayat in Rajasthan’s Sikar district, the Bharatiya Kisan Union-Tikait leader warned that if the laws were not repealed, the call would be given to gherao Parliament with 40 lakh tractors.

Asked about this threat on Wednesday, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the government was committed to the welfare of the farmers and was working to double their income. “The government has been holding discussions with farmers in a sensitive and sympathetic way. Even now, whenever they give their response [to the proposal], the government is always ready to hold talks,” he said, speaking on the sidelines of an event to mark the second anniversary of the PM KISAN income support scheme.

Mr. Tomar said the Centre had transferred ₹1.15 lakh crore to more than 10.75 crore farmers since the scheme began. However, the initial target for beneficiaries under the scheme was 14.5 crore. The Minister urged State governments to ensure that all eligible beneficiaries were registered, as a number of farmers had been complaining that they were not receiving PM-KISAN benefits.

Meanwhile, farm unions observed Daman Pratirodh Divas, or Anti-Repression Day, on Wednesday. The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, a joint platform of protesting unions, wrote to the President of India calling for “the unconditional release of innocent farmers imprisoned during the farmers’ agitation and the dismissal of false cases and notices”. The letter was also submitted by protesting farmers to district and tehsil authorities across the country.

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Printable version | Apr 23, 2021 12:00:12 AM |

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