Irate farmers, who are holding protests on Delhi's borders for the past 16 days, on Thursday threatened to block the rail tracks across the country -- which they did for over a month in Punjab -- unless the government withdraws all the three contentious farm laws.
"The farmers will resort to 'Rail Roko.' Our Samyukt Kisaan Manch will fix a date," Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Balbir Singh Rajewal announced at the protest site. Another farmer leader Boota Singh rubbished Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar's statement that the government is ready for talks with an open mind.
Tomar and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal told reporters on Thursday that the government is ready for a rethink on the contentious clauses, though they feel the three laws are beneficial for the farmers. They reiterated that the government is ready to give a written assurance on MSP and the laws won't lead to dismantling of Mandis.
"It is being projected that farmers' land will be usurped by industrialists. Contract farming has been in vogue in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab and Karnataka, but there has never been any incident of a farmer's land being seized," Tomar said.
"Still, we have made a provision in the Act that the agreement under these laws will only be between the processor and the farmer. There is no provision for leasing out of a farmer's land," the Agriculture Minister added.