Protesting Punjab farmers are adamant on marching to Delhi today as Union Ministers’ over five-hour meeting with them was inconclusive. There has been no resolution on farmers’ main demand: the minimum crop support price.
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The farmers’ meeting with Union ministers in Chandigarh – a last-ditch effort by the government that was ruined two years ago by protests against the farm laws – continued almost till midnight. Food and Consumer Minister Piyush Goyal and Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda led the talks with the farmer leaders.
After 11 pm, the two sides reached an agreement on repealing the Electricity Act, 2020, compensating farmers killed in Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh, and withdrawing cases against farmers during the farmers movement.
But there was no consensus on three key demands: enactment of a law to ensure Minimum Support Price for all crops, waiver of loans to farmers and implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations.
After the meeting ended shortly before midnight, Sarwan Singh Pandher of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee said the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march had begun. “Two years ago, the government had promised to meet half of our demands in writing… We wanted to resolve the issue peacefully. But the government is not sincere. They just want to waste time,” a farmers’ representative told reporters.
The Delhi Police has taken all possible measures to prevent the march from entering Delhi. There is a heavy police presence at Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders. Police have imposed a month-long ban on public gatherings and tractors and carts entering the city.
Prohibitory orders banning large gatherings have been declared in these areas. Many of the roads have been barricaded with concrete blocks and barbed wire. The circulation of commercial vehicles has been stopped.
Haryana authorities have also strengthened state borders with Punjab at many places, including Ambala, Jind, Fatehabad, Kurukshetra and Sirsa. Concrete blocks, iron nails and barbed wire have been used to barricade roads and block protesters from entering the state.
Haryana has also invoked the 2021 law against damage to public and private property that makes perpetrators pay. The state Department of the Interior has ordered civilian and law enforcement officials to comply with the rule.
Samyukta Kisan Morcha and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha had announced the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march. Farmers have taken a hard line, armed with the precedent of the government’s capitulation and withdrawal of farm laws after the year of agitation of 2020-21.
The Kisan Mazdoor Morcha, which has the loyalty of over 250 farmer unions, and the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, a platform of 150 other unions, called for the protest in December. The protest, coordinated from Punjab, aims to remind the government of the promises it made two years ago.
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