Farmers body says ready to resume talks but govt should come with new proposal

Farmers' Protest LIVE Updates: BKU says chakka jam to be held in 15 Punjab districts; roads blocked in Sangrur, Bathinda

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farm unions emphasised that the ‘ball was in the goverment’s court’ while adding that merely putting the laws on hold was not acceptable to them

Representational image. AP

Protesting farmer unions Saturday said they are ready to resume talks with the government, but asked it to come up with a fresh proposal as the existing offer to put the three farm laws on hold for 12-18 months is not acceptable to them.

The unions, however, made it clear that they would not settle for anything less than the repeal of the three contentious laws.

Addressing a press conference at the Singhu border here, Samyukta Kisan Morcha’s senior leader Darshan Pal said the ball is now in the government’s court now.

“We are ready to talk. The ball is in the government’s court. We clearly told them that their last proposal (of suspending the farm laws for 12-18 months) was not acceptable to us. Now, they should come up with a new proposal,” he told reporters.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farm unions leading the protests at the city border points, thanked all global personalities for their support to the protests. He said the farmers have been on the agitation for “many months and many farmers have been martyred”.

“It is a shame that at the behest of the government, some people want to suppress this movement by calling it as an ‘internal matter’, but it is necessary to understand that in democracy, people are superior, not the government,” it stated.

The assertion comes in the backdrop of support extended by some global celebrities such as singer Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg to the farmers’ protests against the three laws.

Talking about the Saturday’s ‘chakka jam’, the farmer leader claimed it got a huge nationwide support which once again “proved” that farmers across the country are united against these farm laws.

Pal also condemned Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s statement in Parliament on Friday.

“He (Tomar) insulted the struggle of farmers of India by saying that only one state’s farmers are opposing the agricultural laws,” Pal said.

Countering the Opposition’s claim that farmers across the country are agitated over the three laws, Tomar had on Friday said in Rajya Sabha that peasants of just one state are being misinformed and instigated.

After the 11th round of talks on 22 January, the government’s negotiations with the representatives of thousands of protesting farmers had hit a roadblock as the unions had rejected the Centre’s proposal to put three contentious laws on hold.

The government had asked unions to revert by 23 January in case they agree to the suspension proposal and the talks can continue only thereafter. However, the unions remained firm on their demands.

“Despite all the conspiracies of the government and anti-social elements, the SKM stands on the demand for the complete repeal of all the three laws and legal guarantee of the MSP,” Samyukta Kisan Morcha said in the Saturday statement.

India had Wednesday hit out at global celebrities such as singer Rihanna and Thunberg for their support of the farmers’ protests, the focus of a sharply polarised international debate that saw several Bollywood and cricket stars and top ministers rally around the government in its pushback.

The SKM claimed that according to the information compiled so far, 204 agitators have died in the ongoing movement, but the government is still ignoring the pain of farmers.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at three Delhi border points — Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur — for over 70 days, demanding a repeal of the three farm laws.

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