Farmers walk out of meeting over minister's absence, tear copies of farm law
New Delhi, Oct 14: Farmer unions, who have been protesting against the new farm laws, walked out of meeting with agriculture secretary on Wednesday over the absence of the Union minister for agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar.
Representatives from 29 farmers'' organisations, including Joginder Singh-led Bharati Kissan Union, were miffed at the absence of Agriculture Minister and Minister of State for Agriculture in the meeting.
The meeting was convened at the Krishi Bhavan amid police security to avoid any protest. After the meeting, agitated farmers'' representatives were seen shouting slogans and tearing copies of new farm laws outside Krishi Bhavan.
More than 30 representatives, who had come in a bus, were mostly senior citizens but had not even worn face masks despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
"No proper discussion took place. Neither Union agriculture minister nor junior ministers were present to hear our concerns. We asked why the minister is not meeting us, why the government is playing double standards by calling us here and ministers holding virtual meetings in Punjab. There was no proper response," Darshan Pal, member of the coordination committee of 29 farmers'' organisations, told PTI after the meeting.
Since there was no response from Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agrawal, who was chairing the meeting, farmers'' organisations decided to boycott the meeting, he said.
"BJP leaders are holding virtual meetings in Punjab and talking against us. We are called to Delhi and no minister wants to listen to us," Pal, who also heads the Krantikari Kisan Union Punjab, added.
Harjinder Singh from Ajad Kisan Sangathana said, "The agriculture secretary had invited us to take our feedback on the new farm laws. We thought the agriculture minister would be there, but only the secretary was present."
The secretary tried to explain that the new laws are good and will yield good results in future, he said.
"We knew the secretary had no authority and there is no point discussing it with him. We decided to boycott," he added.
"We weren't satisfied with the discussions, so we walked out. We want these black laws to be scrapped. The Secretary said he will communicate our demands further," a farmers' union leader was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
"We walked out as no minister came for the meeting. We want these laws to be taken back," said another leader.
Farmers under the banner of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee have been squatting on the Amritsar-Delhi rail track at Devidaspura in Amritsar since September 24 in protest against the three farm legislation enacted by the Centre recently.
Farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws will destroy the minimum support price mechanism, end Agricultural Produce Market Committees and allow corporates to arm-twist them.
The government, however, has been saying that these laws, which were passed by Parliament recently amid a vociferous Opposition protest, will raise farmers'' income, free them from the clutches of the middleman and usher in new technology in farming.