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Farmers to continue protest till 6 demands met, Cabinet nod to repeal laws on Nov 24

NEW DELHI: Farmers’ unions, under Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of over 40 farmer unions, has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi listing their six demands, including the resignation and arrest of Union minister of state for home affairs Ajay Mishra Teni, whose son has been accused of mowing down farmers in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri. The letter calls him the “mastermind” of the shocking incident in early October.

In the letter to the PM, released late Sunday night, the farmers have said that their protests were not just for the three farm laws. Listing their other demands, they have said that the protests will continue till all their demands are met.

 

The six demands include making MSP — based on the comprehensive cost of production formula (C2+50 per cent) — a legal entitlement of all farmers for all agricultural produce; withdrawal of the draft Electricity Amendment Bill 2020/21, withdrawal of all cases against farmers; compensation and rehabilitation assistance to the families of 700 farmers who died in the protests; and land at Singhu border to build a memorial in their memory.  

The letter also asks the government to resume talks with SKM on the above issues.

The Union Cabinet, meanwhile, is all set to take up for approval the withdrawal of three contentious farm laws during its next meeting on Wednesday. After receiving the Cabinet’s approval, the proposal to repeal the farm laws will be introduced in the upcoming winter session of Parliament which begins on November 29.

 

At Delhi’s Singhu border, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of over 40 farmer unions, on Sunday announced they will continue the agitation and hold another meeting on November 27 to decide the future course of action.

The announcement came after the SKM held a crucial meeting to deliberate on issues including MSP, compensation for the farmers who lost their lives during the protests and cases registered against farmers.

Farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal said, “We discussed the repeal of farm laws. After this, some decisions were taken. SKM’s pre-decided programs will continue as it is. Kisan mahapanchayat will be held in Lucknow on November 22, gatherings at all borders on November 26 and march to Parliament on November 29.”

 

Violence had erupted in Lakhimpur Kheri district on October 3 when farmers were protesting the visit of UP deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya to Mr Mishra’s native place. Four agitating farmers were run over by a vehicle. In ensuing violence, four others, including a journalist and two BJP workers, were also allegedly killed.

Terming the Union government’s decision to withdraw the three farm laws “a good step”, Mr Rajewal said, “but a lot of things still remain.”

In a statement, the SKM said, “While Mr Narendra Modi or his government does not acknowledge the heavy and avoidable sacrifices made by about 700 brave farmers of the Kisan Andolan, the Telangana government has now stepped forward to provide support to the kin of the martyrs… While announcing a support of Rs 3 lakh each per martyr family, Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao has also demanded that the Union government should pay Rs 25 lakh to each farmer family and also withdraw all cases against them unconditionally.”

 

The SKM will soon provide the list of martyrs to the Telangana government for the ex-gratia support to be extended to the martyrs’ families.

Bhartiya Kisan Union national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait appealed to farmers to turn up in large numbers for Monday’s “Chalo Lucknow Chalo Lucknow (Let’s go to Lucknow) for MSP Adhikaar Kisaan Mahapanchayat.”

In a tweet in Hindi, he said, “The agriculture reforms being talked about are fake and cosmetic. The farm reforms are not going to stop the plight of the farmers. The biggest reform for the farmers and agriculture will be to make a law pertaining to the MSP.”

 

BKU UP unit vice-president Harnam Singh Verma said, “The Prime Minister has announced the repeal of the three farm laws, but he did not say when the MSP law will be made. Until a law is made on the MSP, and Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra is removed, the agitation will continue.”

Mr Verma said a number of other issues will also be discussed at the farmers’ mahapanchayat. “The BJP had said (during the previous Assembly elections in UP) that once it forms the government in the state, payment will be made to the sugarcane farmers within 14 days, but this mechanism could not be implemented in the state. In a span of four-and-a-half years, the increase in sugarcane price was barely Rs 25.”

 

Farmers have been protesting on Delhi’s borders for the past year seeking the withdrawal of the three laws. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said people who have “suffered false rhetoric” in the past are not ready to believe the words of the Prime Minister on repealing the farm laws. He said this as farmer unions decided to continue their year-long agitation at Delhi’s borders even after Mr Modi announced the decision to withdraw the three farm laws.

“People who have suffered false rhetoric are not ready to believe the words of the PM. Farmers’ satyagraha continues,” Mr Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi, using the hashtag “#FarmersProtest continues”.

 

The Prime Minister had on Friday announced on the occasion of Gurupurab the government’s intention to withdraw the laws in the interest of the nation. The three farm laws are – The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act provides for setting up a mechanism allowing the farmers to sell their farm produce outside the Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs). Any licence-holder trader can buy the produce from the farmers at mutually agreed prices. This trade will be free of the mandi tax imposed by the state governments. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act allows farmers to do contract farming and market their produce freely. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act is an amendment to the existing Essential Commodities Act.

 

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