Leaders of various farmer organisations outside Vigyan Bhawan after the Central government invited them to hold talks, as they continue their agitation at Delhi border points against the new farm laws, in New Delhi, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020.
Leaders of various farmer organisations outside Vigyan Bhawan after the Central government invited them to hold talks, as they continue their agitation at Delhi border points against the new farm laws, in New Delhi, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020.
PTI / Kamal Kishore

The more than three-hour-long dialogue between a group of more than 32 farmer union leaders and the government remained inconclusive on Tuesday. The fourth round of talks will be held on Thursday, December 3.

The government on Tuesday suggested setting up a committee to look into issues raised by farmers protesting against new farm laws, but it was rejected by representatives of 35 agitating organisations during their marathon meeting with three union ministers that ended without any resolution.

The farmers declared that they will continue their protest and the agitation will be strengthened day by day until they do not get a solution to their demands from the government.

Farmer leaders, however, said the meeting was peaceful but the government was not ready to repeal its three farm laws, and proposed to form a committee to study and clarify law-related misconceptions to resolve the ongoing deadlock.

Some of the farmers raised the issue that Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh were not present in the meeting despite the government`s promise that they will be part of the discussions.

At the end of meeting, which began at Vigyan Bhawan in Central Delhi, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said "The third round of meeting has ended and the fourth round of meeting will be held on Thursday (December 3)." December 3 is also the date that was earlier decided by the government to hold talks with farmers.

Bharatiya Kisan Union General Secretary (Punjab), Balwant Singh told IANS: "The meeting was inconclusive".

Punjab Kisan Sangathan Treasurer Karnal Singh told IANS that "The protest will continue until the farmers` demands are not met".

"However, the talks with the government would continue," Karnal Singh said.

The government`s proposal to form a committee to study the three contentious farms laws was rejected by the farmer unions during the ongoing talks called by the Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Tuesday to resolve the issues of agitating farmers.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Roop Singh Sanna told IANS that the government proposed to form a committee to study and discuss issues related to the three farm laws enacted in September during the Monsoon Session of Parliament.

The leader said the government had offered to select four-five members from farmers` association to form the committee in which there will be some government members.

He said that all the "union leaders unanimously rejected" government`s offer.

"Forming a committee is an attempt to postpone the issue. We are not ready to accept the government`s offer," said Sanna.

However, another round of meeting got underway later in the evening at the Agriculture Ministry with representatives of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), the officials said.

The government is holding on to its stance of not rolling back the three farm laws which farmers allege are "anti-farm" and "black laws": 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.

The protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the Centre's farm laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.

The government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.

The information comes from the meeting led by Agriculture Minister Tomar and Piyush Goyal, Union Minister for Consumer Affairs and Food & Public Distribution, in presence of more than 32 farmer union leaders on the sixth day of the ongoing farmers` protest. The meeting started at Vigyan Bhawan around 3.30 p.m.

The meeting was also attended by Union Minister of State for Commerce Som Prakash and Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal.

The government side was, however, firm in its stand that a high-level committee must be formed to look into the issues and wanted the farmer representatives to further consider the proposal.
Sources said the ministers were of the view that it was difficult to reach a decision while interacting with such large groups and therefore they suggested meeting with a smaller group, but the farmer leaders were firm that they would meet collectively only.
Union leaders said they feared the government might be trying to break their unity and the momentum of their protest.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh have been protesting at the Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders.

Peaceful sit-ins by farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, continued at the Singhu and Tikri borders with no untoward incident reported after Friday's violence, while the numbers of protestors swelled at the Ghazipur border on Monday.

The opposition parties too stepped up the pressure, asking the Centre to "respect the democratic struggle" of the farmers and repeal the laws.

An earlier meeting on November 13 had failed to give any breakthrough and the next one was originally scheduled for December 3, but it got advanced due to the ongoing protests on Delhi borders.

(With inputs from agencies)

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