Talks collapse, farmers to march to Delhi

Centre did not offer any assurance on MSP guarantee demand, say leaders; Delhi Police impose Section 144 for a month to prevent gatherings

February 13, 2024 12:45 am | Updated February 14, 2024 02:32 pm IST - New Delhi

Police personnel stand guard at the barricaded Shambhu barrier (Punjab-Haryana border) ahead of the farmers’ call for the ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest march scheduled for February 13th.

Police personnel stand guard at the barricaded Shambhu barrier (Punjab-Haryana border) ahead of the farmers’ call for the ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest march scheduled for February 13th. | Photo Credit: ANI

As the five-hour-long second round of meetings held on Monday with Union Cabinet Ministers Piyush Goyal and Arjun Munda in Chandigarh also failed, the farmers belonging to the Samyukt Kisan Morcha-Non Political (SKM-NP), a splinter group of Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), have decided to continue with ‘Delhi Chalo’ protests as planned on Tuesday. The leaders said the protests will begin at 10 a.m.

The farmers’ leaders said that the Centre failed to give any assurance on their demands. The main bone of contention was an assurance on guaranteed MSP. “The Ministers did not give us any assurance on MSP. The talks collapsed. We will continue our protests,” K.V. Biju, a senior farmers’ leader told The Hindu after the meeting.

Farmer protest, Delhi Chalo live updates - February 14

Their other demands — freedom from debt, hiked import duties on all agricultural products, cancellation of all free trade agreements and other deals with the World Trade Organisation, suspending privatisation of electricity boards, a ban on Foreign Direct Investment and corporatisation in agriculture, and a pension for farmers — remained unanswered as well.

Also read: Punjab’s resolute farmers set out to test Haryana’s thorny defences

“The Centre has taken an adamant stand. We have no other way before us than continuing the protests,” said SKM-NP leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal.

Senior SKM-NP leader Shiv Kumar Kakka, Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee general secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher and Punjab Minister for Minister of Administrative Reforms and NRI Affairs Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal were also present in the meeting. Mr. Pandher said the Centre was trying to buy time. “We want the Centre to implement the assurances given to us two years ago. But they said they still want time,” he added.

“We made all efforts during the talks with the Ministers that some decision could come in our favour, but we didn’t feel any positive (sign) from their side in the meeting. If we would have been given something then why would we protest? We will start our Delhi Chalo march today,” he said on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, police forces in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi have strengthened the security at Delhi borders, expecting the presence of large numbers of farmers. Delhi Police has imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code for one month.

A complete ban has been put in place on gatherings, processions or rallies and entry of tractor trolleys carrying people in the national capital, in anticipation of widespread tension and “social unrest” over the farmers’ march.

An order issued by Delhi Police Commissioner Sanjay Arora, which came into effect on Monday, would be enforced until March 12.

Farmers from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are expected to enter Delhi during their march. Meanwhile, some farmers (including a few from Karnataka) heading to Delhi to take part in the protest were arrested in Madhya Pradesh on Monday.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah condemned the arrests. The SKM also echoed his condemnation and appealed to all political parties to call out the highhandedness of the BJP governments in various States and at the Centre.

(With inputs from Samridhi Tewari, Vikas Vasudeva)

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