Farmer unions will decide on Wednesday on whether to continue their protests at the borders of Delhi, ANI reported.
Even as the three farm laws, which triggered the protests, were repealed last week, the farmer bodies continued their sit-in agitation to push for the other demands.
At a press conference on Tuesday, members of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of the farmer unions, said that they had received a letter from the Centre chalking out a proposal of actions on their pending demands.
“Nearly all demands raised by us have been met,” farmer leader Kulwant Singh Sandhu told reporters. “A consensus [among farmer unions] has been reached, the final decision will be announced tomorrow.”
Sandhu made the statement at a press conference after representatives of various farm unions held a meeting after receiving the letter of assurance from the government. The unions have replied to the Centre’s proposal on the pending demands with some suggestions and objections, PTI reported.
However, soon after the press conference, Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait said that the farmer bodies had their apprehensions about the government’s proposal and that the protestors were not going to budge till all the matters are resolved, ANI reported.
One bone of contention that remains between the Centre and the farmers is the matter of withdrawing cases against the protestors. Farmer unions had demanded that cases registered against protestors across the country during the agitation should be withdrawn.
Sandhu told reporters on Tuesday that the government proposed to withdraw the cases only after the farmer bodies called for continued protests.
“We are apprehensive about it.... Government should immediately begin the procedure,” he said.
Two other farmer leaders, Balbir Singh Rajewal and Gurnam Singh Charuni, said that the agitation will not be called off till the cases are withdrawn.
Meanwhile, on the farmers’ demand to have a law passed to guarantee minimum support price of crops, the government has proposed to form a committee to look into the matter, PTI reported. The government has recommended that the panel would include representatives of farmer organisations outside the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, government officials and representatives of states.
Farmer bodies have objected to this proposal as well.
“We do not want other committees who have been against our demands since the start [of the protests] to be part of the panel on minimum support price,” Rajewal said. “We have demanded that the government give a clarification in this regard.”
Charuni also said that the Centre should emulate the Punjab government’s decision to provide Rs 5 lakh and a government job to the families of those who died during the protests.
Last week, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar had told the Lok Sabha that the Centre has no record on the number of farmers who died during the protests against the farm laws.
However, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has said that his party’s government in Punjab had identified 403 such farmers in the state and provided compensation to their families. Family members of another 152 farmers who died were given jobs in Punjab, Gandhi said.
The Congress leader has demanded that the Centre should also provide compensation, adding that the party could provide a list of the farmers who died.
Thousands of farmers have been holding sit-in demonstrations at the borders of the national Capital since November last year. The agitation began with the demand of repeal of the three farm laws passed in the Parliament in September 2020.
The farmers were concerned about the new laws, which would have opened up the country’s agriculture markets to private companies. The Centre, however, had claimed that the laws would give farmers more access to markets and boost production through private investment.
On November 19, on the occasion of Guru Parab, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that the laws will be repealed. On December 1, President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to withdrawal of the laws after a Bill proposing their repeal was passed in Parliament during the Winter Session.