Farmers' anger evident as 'langar' for lunch again during talks with govt
New Delhi, December 5, 2020
A clear signal of resentment was witnessed even after the first two hours of discussion as the fifth round of talks between government and farmers got underway on Saturday when 40 representatives of different unions from Punjab and Haryana took a 'langar lunch' outside the venue dismissing invitation to the meal offered by the central government representative once again.
Krantikari Kisan Union President Darshan Pal, Jamoohari Kisan Sabha General Secretary Kulwant Singh Sandhu, Bharatiya Kisan Sabha President Boota Singh, Kulhind Kisan Sabha General Secretary Baldev Singh were among various farmer union leaders who had their lunch on the floor of Vigyan Bhawan.
At the 4 p.m. break, they enjoyed their lunch brought by their supporters from the "langars" outside the venue.
Once again, they refused to partake of the lunch provided by the Central government, a signal that the discussion during the crucial meeting is still not as per expectations of the farmers who have announced a 'Bharat Bandh" on December 8 if the matter was not resolved by then.
In the fourth round of talks on December 3, the farmers had refused to have lunch with the government representatives as they thrashed out their charter of demands.
Saturday's talks began at 2 p.m. The refusal to share lunch indicated farmers would not take any favour from the government till their demands were met.
The farmers' demand includes framing of a specific law on Minimum Support Price (MSP), and a written assurance on it, ending the punishment provision for stubble burning, repealing three contentious farm laws passed in September during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, and stalling the upcoming Electricity (Amendment) Act, 2020.
Meanwhile, as the talks were underway, several representatives of farmers said they wanted only the repeal of the three new farm laws.
Talking to IANS, they also warned of intensifying their ongoing 10-day protest on the Delhi's inter-state borders at the national level if their demands were not met.
While the government was agreeable to amendments to The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, farmers are pushing for the scrapping of the "anti-farmer" laws.
Kirpa Singh Natthuwala, President of Kisan Bachao Morcha from Punjab, told IANS that the farmers "don't come up with a new agenda everyday".
"Our first and only agenda is to get abolished the three farm laws," he said.
The farmer leader said that the Union government was saying since the enactment of these laws in September that these were in favour of the farmers and that middlemen were behind the farmers' protest.
"Now the government has suddenly realised that there are some faults in these laws. According to the farmers, these laws are completely wrong. We request the government to repeal these laws because they are not only harmful for Indian farmers but also over 130 crore Indians. We are approaching the Centre with a single-point agenda to get these farm laws repealed," said Singh, who is among 40-odd farmer leaders participating in the 5th round of government-farmers talks.
Farmer leader Rampal Jat, President of Kisan Mahapanchayat, warned that if the 5th round of talks on Saturday did not fructify, farmers from Rajasthan would march along the National Highway-8 towards Delhi and camp at the Jantar Mantar in central Delhi.
The leader requested the Union government to announce withdrawal of the three laws, calling these "black laws".
Rampal also stressed that the government should give in writing that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system would continue.
A majority of farmers, protesting since November 26 on the Singhu border, with whom IANS talked said that they would continue with their agitation till the government met their demands, and that the protest would otherwise be intensified.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) General Secretary Harvinder Singh Lakhowal has called for a 'Bharat 'Bandh on December 8 if the government did not withdraw the farm laws, saying "all roads leading to Delhi in the coming days will be blocked if the new farm laws are not scrapped".
The fifth round of talks started at 2 pm at Vigyan Bhavan in central Delhi. A group of nearly three dozen farmer leaders are participating in the meeting. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of State Som Prakash and Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal are also present in the meeting, like in the previous rounds of talks on December 1 and 3.