Farmers call for 'Bharat Bandh' on Dec 8; 5th round of talks to be held today
New Delhi, Dec 04: Hardening their position ahead of the fifth round of talks with the government, agitating farmers on Friday announced a 'Bharat Bandh' on December 8 and threatened to occupy toll plazas on that day.
Addressing a press conference, farmer leader Gurnam Singh Chadoni said if the Centre does not accept their demands during Saturday's talks, they will intensify their agitation against the new farm laws.
"In our meeting today, we have decided to give a 'Bharat Bandh' call on December 8 during which we will also occupy all toll plazas," said Harinder Singh Lakhwal, general secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union. "We have planned to block all roads leading to Delhi in the coming days if new farm laws are not scrapped," he also said.
He said that farmers will protest against the central government and the corporate houses and burn their effigies on December 5, adding that on December 7, sportspersons will return their medals in solidarity with the farmers. However, Lakhwal did not divulge the names and number of sportspersons who would be returning their medals.
During the press conference, there were also farmer leaders from Rajasthan, Telangana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Rajsthan and other states. Farmer leaders reiterated their demands that the Centre call a special session of Parliament to repeal the new farm laws, adding that the protestors did not want amendments to the news laws but their scrapping.
Delhi's border points remained choked as thousands of farmers from Haryana, Punjab, and other states held demonstrations for the ninth consecutive day, after talks with the government failed to yield any resolution on Thursday.
Rajasthan farmer leader Ranjeet Singh Raju said that this ongoing agitation belongs to all farmers of the country and added that the government will be entirely responsible if it does not sense public sentiments over the issue and anything happens due to this.
The farmer community has expressed apprehension that the new laws are "anti-farmer", and would pave the way for dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporations. However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.
Meanwhile, the government and farmer leaders are scheduled to meet again on Saturday for their fifth round of talks to end the deadlock over the new farm laws.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State of Commerce and Industry Som Parkash, who will be present in the meeting, will deliberate on the points that farmer leaders had raised and offer possible solutions.
According to sources, the government has worked out possible solutions to the provisions on which farm leaders have raised objections. It hopes to break the deadlock on Saturday so that the farmers'' protest ends at the earliest.
In the previous meeting on Thursday, Tomar had assured 40 farmer union leaders that the government is open to considering ways to strengthen APMC mandis, create a level-playing field with proposed private markets, and provide a provision for approaching higher courts for dispute resolution, while asserting that procurement at minimum support price (MSP) will continue.
But the other side stuck to their demand of repealing the three "hastily-passed" farm laws, saying that the legislations with several loopholes and deficiencies cannot be amended.
It needs to be seen whether farmer leaders will accept solutions offered by the government and end the protest due to which Delhi''s border points remained choked as thousands of farmers from Haryana, Punjab, and other states held demonstrations for the ninth consecutive day.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait has threatened that the farmers'' agitation would intensify if the government fails to meet the demands.
"The government and the farmers did not reach any decision during the meeting held on Thursday. The government wants to make amendments to the three laws, but we want the laws to be completely repealed.
"If the government does not agree to our demands, we will continue to protest. We are looking to find out what happens in Saturday''s meeting," Tikait told PTI.
The farmer community has expressed apprehension that the new laws are "anti-farmer", and would pave the way for dismantling of the MSP system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporations.
However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.