Farmers at Ghazipur border during a protest against farm law, in New Delhi on Friday.
Farmers at Ghazipur border during a protest against farm law, in New Delhi on Friday.
ANI

New Delhi: Farmers' unions on Friday said that if the talks with the government on January 4 fail then they will intensify the protest and hold a tractor rally on January 6.

Farmer groups under the Samyukta Kisan Morcha made the announcment after a meeting at Singhu border.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) General Secretary Harinder Singh Lakhowal told IANS, "The topics of the next round of talks with the government were discussed in the meeting. The government has agreed to our two demands, but two important demands are yet to be discussed on January 4. If these two demands are not negotiated during the talks with the government, then a tractor rally will be taken out on January 6."

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, are protesting at various borders of the national capital for more than a month against these three new laws.

The government has presented these laws as major agriculture reforms aimed at helping farmers and increasing their income, but the protesting unions fear that the new legislations have left them at the mercy of big corporates by weakening the MSP and mandi systems.

Friday marked the 37th day of the farmers' protest against the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Production and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020. The farmers are demanding withdrawal of all the three laws, while the government has agreed to amend the laws as per the suggestions of the farmers. The farmers will be taking up the issue during the 6th round of talks with the government.

The leaders of the farmers' organisations also held talks on four issues with the government on Wednesday, of which the government has accepted two demands while the other two, withdrawal of the three laws and legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP), are still to be addressed.

'Only 5% issues discussed'

Addressing a press conference at the Singhu border protest site, representatives of farmer unions said that only five per cent of the issues raised by them have so far been discussed in meetings with the government.

After the talks between three union ministers and a 41-member representative group of thousands of farmers protesting on Delhi borders, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said at least 50 per cent resolution has been reached with mutual agreement on two out of four items on the agenda and discussions would continue on the remaining two on January 4 at 2 PM.

'Cannot make us leave this place like they did in Shaheen Bagh'

Farmer leader Yudhveer Singh said if the central government thinks the farmers' protest will go the Shaheen Bagh way, then it is mistaken. "They (government) cannot make us leave this place like they did in Shaheen Bagh," he said.

Hundreds of protesters had camped at Shaheen Bagh for several months against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and later, the site was cleared by the Delhi Police following the coronavirus-induced lockdown in March last year.

Intensified protest

Farmer unions warned that they will start shutting all malls and petrol pumps in Haryana if the government fails to resolve their main demands for the repeal of three new farm laws and a legal guarantee for MSP in the January 4 meeting.

At the press conference, farmer leaders made it clear that they will have to take firm steps if the government does not take a decision in their favour in the January 4 meeting.

They outlined multiple protest actions over a month if their main demands are not met, in an announcement a few days before Republic Day celebrations.

"If the January 4 meeting with the government fails to end the deadlock, we will announce dates for shutting all malls, petrol pumps in Haryana," a farmer leader told reporters.

At a meeting of Samkyukt Kisan Morcha -- an umbrella body of around 40 farmer unions protesting at several Delhi border points -- several decisions were taken.

According to the unions, if the results of the talks on January 4 are not satisfactory, a tractor march will be taken out from the protest site to the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway on January 6 and a call will also be given to those farmers protesting at Shahjahanpur on the Haryana-Rajasthan border to move towards the national capital.

Rallies, dharnas, sit-ins and press conferences will be ogranised across the country from January 6 to January 20 to counter alleged government propaganda that the protest was Punjab-centric.

Farmers will celebrate Women's Day on January 18 and the modalities will be discussed later, farmer leaders said, adding that programmes will be held on to mark birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose on January 23.

After the sixth round of formal negotiations on Wednesday, the government and farm unions reached some common ground to resolve protesting farmers' concerns over rise in power tariff and penalties for stubble burning, but the two sides remained deadlocked over the main contentious issues of the repeal of three farm laws and a legal guarantee for MSP.

Another farmer dies

A 57-year-old farmer died of heart attack while protesting against the Centre's farm laws at the Ghazipur border here on Friday.

Mohar Singh, a resident of Bhagwanpur Nangal village in Baghpat district, was rushed to a nearby hospital where the doctors declared him brought dead, an official said.

Indirapuram DSP Anshu Jain told PTI that as per medical information, the farmer died of a heart attack.

Commenting on the incident, the state president of the BKU, Rajbir Singh, said all those farmers who died during the protest against the farm laws must get the status of a martyr.

The body was wrapped in a BKU flag. BKU leader Rakesh Tikait paid homage to him.

On the eve of the New Year, a tribute was paid to all farmers who died during the protest. A candlelight march was also brought out.

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