Farmers’ protest | After ‘positive’ discussion, Centre-farmers to hold fourth round of meeting on February 18

Farmers continue to camp at different locations on the Haryana-Punjab inter-State boundary

Updated - February 16, 2024 10:20 am IST

Published - February 15, 2024 11:23 pm IST - CHANDIGARH

Police personnel fire tear gas canisters on farmers as they were advancing towards Delhi to seek enactment of a law on minimum support price at Shambhu Barrier in Punjab on February 14, 2024.

Police personnel fire tear gas canisters on farmers as they were advancing towards Delhi to seek enactment of a law on minimum support price at Shambhu Barrier in Punjab on February 14, 2024. | Photo Credit: Shashi Shekhar Kashyap

Even as protesting farmers from Punjab continued to camp near different locations on the inter-state boundaries with Haryana on Thursday, another round of meetings between farmer representatives and Union Ministers would be now held on February 18, after ‘positive’ discussions were held between Centre-farmers in the meeting concluded on the intervening night of Thursday-Friday.

The Kisan Mazdoor Morcha and the Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) — the two umbrella bodies of around 200 farmers’ and farm labourer unions — had given the call for the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march as they planned to lay siege to the national capital to press for fulfillment of their demands.

Farmers’ protest 2024 Live Updates, February 16, 2024

The third round of meetings in which according to Union ministers and farmer leaders a ‘positive’ discussion ended late at night here. Union Ministers Arjun Munda, Piyush Goyal and Nityanand Rai and farmer leaders Jagjit Singh Dallewal and Sarwan Singh Pandher were among those who participated in the meeting. Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann also attended the meeting. After the first two meetings remained inconclusive, this was the third meeting between the farmer leaders and the Centre.

After the meeting, in which deliberation over farmers’ demands, including giving a legal guarantee to the Minimum Support Price (MSP) was held, Union Minister Arjun Munda said the meeting between the government and farmers was held in a very cordial manner in which positive deliberation took place. “Taking cognizance of the issues that were highlighted by the farmers it has been decided to convene next meeting on February 18. Together, we will find a solution peacefully,” he said.

Also read: ‘Delhi Chalo’ protests | Why farmers are marching to Delhi?

On their third day of protest, farmers in huge numbers continued to camp at other inter-state boundaries with Haryana including Shambu-Ambala and Khanauri-Jind and there were no reports of a clash between the police personnel and farmers. 

Farmer leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal said “...Elaborate discussions were held surrounding MSP, loan waiver, etc, which were positive. Now, another round of meeting has been fixed for Sunday (Feb 18),” he said. Farmers would continue camp at boundaries with Haryana till the next meeting.

Earlier, addressing a press conference at the Shambhu border, Sarwan Singh Pandher showed tear gas shells, alleging paramilitary personnel deputed by Harayna were using force against farmers, injuring many farmers. Mr. Pandher said smoke cell air bursts and smoke cell ground bursts were being used against farmers.

Also read: Farmers’ protest | After ‘positive’ discussion, Centre-farmers to hold fourth round of meeting on February 18

Meanwhile, the Haryana government extended the suspension of mobile internet services in seven districts by another two days till February 17, in the wake of the situation in Haryana to be “critical” and “tense”. The government had earlier ordered the suspension of mobile internet services, bulk SMS (excluding banking and mobile recharge) and all dongle services etc till February 15 in districts including Ambala, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind, Hisar, Fatehabad and Sirsa.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal objected to the farmer’s modus operandi to press for fulfillment of their demands. At a press conference, he said while there’s no objection about farmers going to Delhi, but the way they are attempting to march with tractor-trolleys, earth-movers etc,.to Delhi like an army on the offensive, is something objectionable.

On the other hand, Punjab Water Resources Minister Chetan Singh said Haryana’s police action against farmers has exposed yet again the anti-democratic and dictatorial mindset of BJP governments, who can stoop so low to oppress the voice of farmers.

Coming in support of the ongoing protest and against the use of force against farmers by the Haryana government, farmers associated with the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan), one of the largest outfits in Punjab blocked rail traffic at different places in Punjab for four hours. Separately, the Punjab chapter of the Samkyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) made ‘toll plazas’ free across Punjab.

On February 13, scores of farmers from different parts of Punjab started their ‘tractor-trolley’ march to lay siege to Delhi to press for the fulfillment of their demands. As farmers arrived at Shambu-Ambala and Khanauri-Jind, the boundaries with Punjab, they were stopped from entering Haryana. The Haryana government had put in place elaborate security arrangements with multi-layer barricades, which included iron nails, barbed wires, concrete barricades-blocks, boulders and anti-riot vehicles on the roads bordering Punjab. Section 144 had been imposed in 15 districts of the State, and considering the present situation, 64 companies of paramilitary forces and 50 companies of the Haryana Police were deployed. Haryana Police resorted to the use of tear gas through drones and water cannons to disperse agitating farmers from Punjab amid police-farmers clashes when farmer groups attempted to enter Haryana with their ‘tractor-trolley’ convoys by pushing and throwing away the multi-layer barricades.

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