Farmers’ unions reject govt proposal, say will step up protests


Farmer unions on Wednesday rejected the government’s “written proposal” on recently enacted reforms to India’s agriculture market, saying they will step up their protests by blocking a crucial highway on November 12.

We reject the government’s proposals,” LiveMint.com quoted Darshan Pal, president of Krantikari Kisan Union, as saying. “We will block Delhi-Jaipur highway by 12th December,” said farmer leaders at Singhu border, where unions have camping for 14 days now in protest.

“We’ll strategise in our meeting and discuss their (centre’s) proposal. Farmers won’t go back. It’s a matter of their respect. Will the government not withdraw laws? Will there be tyranny? If the government is stubborn, so are farmers. The laws have to be withdrawn” said Rakesh Tikait, spokesperson of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, according to NDTV.

The minimum support price for certain agriculture produce will not end with recently enacted reforms, the government said in a written proposal sent to farmers.

ALSO READ: LIVE: Will block Delhi highways if farm laws not scrapped, say unions

The proposal was sent to farm leaders protesting three recently enacted laws liberalising India’s agriculture markets, listing written amendments that the government intends to carry out.

NDTV reported the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020, which farmers said goes against them, will not be introduced, according to the government proposal. The government had earlier argued that the laws are meant to monitor power distributors.

The government proposed to make necessary amendments on at least seven issues. Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, at a media briefing on cabinet decisions, called deliberations with farmers “work in progress”, reported PTI.

Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday evening met with 13 farmer leaders but the unscheduled talks failed to end the deadlock over three recently enacted laws that loosened rules around the sale, pricing and storage of farm produce, and had protected farmers from an unfettered free market for decades.

Opposition parties have criticised the reforms, saying they will benefit big business and be disastrous for the rural economy, and met President Ram Nath Kovind to discuss the controversial laws.

“We informed the President that it is absolutely critical that these anti-farmer laws are taken back,” said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi after the meeting.

Unhappy with the liberalisation, farmers have set up protest camps and blocked roads surrounding the capital New Delhi, and on Tuesday they mounted a nationwide strike.

(With inputs from ANI and Reuters)

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