Union ministers held a second round of talks with farm leaders on Thursday even as protests entered its eighth day. However, there was no breakthrough and they decided to hold another round of talks on Saturday. The last meeting between the two sides on Tuesday had failed to break the impasse.
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Thursday urged Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to convene a short Winter Session of the Parliament to discuss the farmer protests. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also met Union Home Minister Amit Shah at his residence. He said that both the Centre and the farmers must resolve the standoff as it affected his state’s economy and the national security.
Former Punjab Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal leader Parkash Singh Badal, meanwhile, returned his Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award, to protest the “betrayal of farmers” by the Narendra Modi government.
Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have camped out at the entrance to Delhi for the eight consecutive day to reverse the agricultural legislations, which they fear could pave the way for the government to stop buying grains at guaranteed prices, leaving them at the mercy of private buyers.
8.23 pm: Tanda, however, adds that the farmers are hopeful. “The laws are wrong,” he tells ANI. “In the next meeting, we will put pressure on the government. They will have to say that they will take back the laws. In my opinion, it will be finalised in the meeting day after tomorrow.”
8.18 pm: Harjinder Singh Tanda, member of Azaad Kisan Sangharsh Committee, says in the second half of the marathon meeting they felt there was some pressure of the agitation on the government. He, however, adds that the talks have achieved very little.
8.17 pm: Som Prakash, the minister of state for commerce and industry, says he is hopeful the farmer agitation would end on December 5.
8.14 pm: The agricultural minister says they will reach a solution soon and urges farmers to end their agitation.
8.10 pm: Tomar says the government will contemplate about seeing that APMC is further strengthened and its usage increases. “New laws lay down provision for private mandis outside purview of APMC,” he adds. “So, we’ll also contemplate about having an equal tax for private as well as mandis under AMPC Act.”
7.50 pm: Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar says the Narendra Modi government has “no ego” after a meeting with the farmers, reports ANI. “Some points have been raised in previous meetings and today’s meet,” he says. “Farmer unions are mainly concerned about these. Government has no ego, it was discussing with farmers with an open mind. Farmers are concerned that the new laws will end APMCs [Agricultural Produce Market Committee].”
7.35 pm: Another meeting between the protesting farmers and the Centre is scheduled to take place on Saturday, reports ANI.
7.15 pm: Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar says the minimum support price system will not be affected after a meeting with farmers to resolve the deadlock, reports ANI. “MSP will not be touched, no changes will be made to it,” he says.
6.54 pm: Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa returns his Padma Bhushan award, reports Hindustan Times. “I have returned my Padma Bhushan in protest as farmers have been staging dharnas for the past two months but the Central government is not ready to listen to them,” the Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic) chief tells the newspaper over phone. “When the BJP government is ignoring our elderly people, who have shifted their protest to Delhi borders, the award is worthless to me.”
6.52 pm: At the meeting at Vigyan Bhawan, the farm leaders suggest the government that a special session of the Parliament be called and the new laws be abolished, according to ANI.
6.50 pm: At the meeting with government officials, the farmers’ representatives have made a presentation on the inadequacies of the new laws, reports NDTV.
6.47 pm: Nihang Sikhs extend their support to the agitating farmers as they reach Singhu border. “[The] government should roll back the black laws,” one of the leaders tells ANI. Otherwise, we will continue to remain here. We are farmers too and we stand with these farmers.”
5.44 pm: Farmers protest against the new farm laws on National Highway-24 at Ghazipur border.
4.57 pm: Delhi Traffic Police issue alert on traffic movement at the Capital’s borders. They say Tikri and Jharoda Borders have been closed for traffic movement, while Badusarai Border is open to cars and two-wheelers. Jhatikara Border is open only for two-wheeler vehicles.
“Dhansa, Daurala, Kapashera, Rajokri NH 8, Bijwasan/Bajghera, Palam Vihar and Dundahera borders are open for Haryana,” they say.
4.51 pm: The All India Power Engineers Federation says it fully supports the farmers’ stir and urges the Centre to scrap the farming laws, reports News18. The organisation also appeals to the government to protect the power subsidy of farmers by revoking the Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020, and standard bidding document.
4.47 pm: Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik supports Congress’ demand for holding a Parliament session, reports ANI. He says that not holding the session and evading questions was not right for the democracy. “Opposition and farmers are demanding that even it’s for two days, Parliament session should be held,” the Nationalist Congress Party leader adds.
4.44 pm: Farmers continue their protest against the farm laws at Dr Ambedkar Memorial Park.
4.37 pm: Farmers across Maharashtra march to the offices of tehsildars and district collectors in support to those protesting in Delhi against the Centre’s farm laws, reports the Hindustan Times. The All-India Kisan Sabha, an umbrella body of over 500 farmer organisations, says that over 80 organisations in the state, including trade unions, farm labours and bank employees, were supporting the marches.
4.32 pm: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan hits out at the Congress, saying that the party has always opposed farmers, reports ANI. He says that the Congress is looking to create some chaos. “It was the same Congress that instigated farmers in Neemuch and Mandsaur and fanned violence,” the chief minister adds. “We will not let [the] Congress do this at any cost in Madhya Pradesh.”
4.26 pm: Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal asks if the Bhratiya Janata Party has any right to call the farmers’ agitation “anti-national”, reports ANI. “These people (farmers) have dedicated their entire life to the nation and now you are calling them anti-national,” Badal says. “People who are calling them anti-nationals are actually anti-nationals.”
The former chief minister of Punjab says that there are elderly women in the protest, asking the government if they look like Khalistanis. “It is a way of calling farmers of the country as anti-nationals,” he says. “This is an insult to the farmers. How dare they call our farmers anti-nationals?”
3.44 pm: Farmer leaders say they refused to accept the tea and food offered to them at Vigyan Bhawan, where talks are underway between them and the central government over the new agricultural laws. “We have brought our own food,” one leader tells ANI.
3.40 pm: Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Badal says that by deciding to return his Padma Vibhushan, party leader Parkash Singh Badal had sent a strong message to the central government, reports ANI. “Parkash Singh Badal fought for farmers his entire life,” he adds.
1.55 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee threatens to launch a nationwide agitation if the “anti-farmer” laws are not withdrawn by the government.
“I am very much concerned about the farmers, their lives and livelihood,” she tweets. “GOI [government of India] must withdraw the anti-farmer bills. If they do not do so immediately we will agitate throughout the state and the country. From the very start, we have been strongly opposing these anti-farmer bills.”
She also says the Trinamool Congress will meet on Friday. “We will discuss how the Essential Commodities Act is impacting common people and resulting in sky rocketing prices,” Banerjee adds. “The central government must withdraw this anti-people law.”
1.38 pm: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Railways, Commerce and Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, who is an MP from Punjab, are holding talks with the representatives of 35 farmers’ unions at the Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi.
1.30 pm: Former Punjab Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal leader Parkash Singh Badal returns Padma Vibhushan to protest “the betrayal of the farmers by government of India”, reports ANI.
1.17 pm: Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad meets the farmers at Singhu border.
1.14 pm: Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury urges Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to convene a short Winter Session of the Parliament to discuss farmers protest, vaccine development and other matters, The Indian Express reports.
1.07 pm: The Punjab government announces a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each for the families of two farmers who died during the ongoing protests, ANI reports.
12.55 pm: Amarinder Singh says he urged Amit Shah to resolve the standoff with the farmers as it affected his state’s economy and also national security, ANI reports. “:Discussion is going on between farmers and Centre, there’s nothing for me to resolve,” he adds.
12.50 pm: The movement of traffic on the key Noida Link Road or Chilla road remains obstructed amid the protests, PTI reports. Only one of the two carriageways on the road is open.
12.43 pm: The meeting between the farmers and the Centre begins.
12.22 pm: Farmers representatives reach Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi for their meeting with the Centre.
12.21 pm: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar says he is hoping for a positive outcome after the talks with farmers, according to ANI.
12.19 pm: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh arrives at Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s residence for their meeting, ANI reports.
11.18 am: 60-year-old farmer Gurjant Singh died at the Tikri border on Wednesday morning, The Indian Express reports. This is the fifth death to take place amid the protest.
11.16 am: Farmers’ representatives leave the Singhu border for their meeting with the Centre, ANI reports.
11.10 am: The farmers continue their protest at the Ghazipur border between Delhi and UP. Superintendent of Police (city) Abhishek Verma says that the police are trying to persuade the farmers to end the blockade on the key route, ANI reports. “We are hopeful that the roadway will be opened soon,” he adds.
9.31 am: Heavy security is seen at the Singhu border.
9.27 am: Bharatiya Janata Party MP Manoj Tiwari alleges that the “tukde tukde gang” is trying to turn the farmers’ protest into a Shaheen Bagh-like agitation, PTI reports.
BJP leaders often accuse their opponents and dissidents of being members of a “tukde tukde” gang, or a group of people trying to divide India.
9.24 am: A group of farmers from Rajasthan joins the protest at the Delhi-Haryana border, ANI reports.
9.20 am: The Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee says it will not hold any meeting with the Centre until Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to the leaders of all 507 farmers’ unions, ANI reports. The union accuses the Centre of trying to divide the farmers.
7.55 am: The Lok Sangharsh Morcha, one of the groups engaged in the protest, had said the fresh round of talks would be the “last chance” for the government to take a decision on the new laws, failing which, the farmers “movement will become huge and the government will fall”.
7.50 am: The Centre has called for a fourth round of talks with the farmers on Thursday, after the meeting between the government and over 30 union leaders on Tuesday failed to break the deadlock. During the discussion, the government had offered to set up a committee to look into the concerns related to the laws. But the farmers turned down the idea, emphasising that their demand was “non-negotiable”.
7.45 am: What are the three farm laws?
The Parliament had passed three ordinances – Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Ordinance 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Assurance and Farm Service Ordinance 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 – in September. They were signed into laws by President Ram Nath Kovind on September 27.
Taken together, the three legislations loosen regulations on the sale, pricing and storage of agricultural produce. They allow farmers to sell outside mandis notified by the Agricultural Produce Market Committee. They enable contract farming through deals with private sector companies. They take food items like cereals and pulses off the list of essential commodities, lifting stock limits on such produce.
Farmers and traders have alleged that the government wants to discontinue the minimum support price regime in the name of reforms. They fear that the laws will leave them at the mercy of corporate powers. The government has maintained that farm laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.
The government claims the new laws would give farmers the freedom to sell in the open market. But farmers say the laws will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce, leave farmers to the mercy of market forces and threaten food security.
Most Opposition parties and farmers’ organisations across the country have strongly opposed the bills. The Shiromani Akali Dal, one of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s oldest allies, pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance in protest against these bills.
7.40 am: Haryana Minister JP Dalal, while speaking about the protests, alleges that China and Pakistan are trying to destabilise India in the name of the farmers, ANI reports.
7.35 am: Rakesh Tikait, the spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, says all farmers’ organisations in the country should hit the streets now, ANI reports. “If the government wants, it can resolve the issues,” he says.
7.30 am: Thousands of farmers from several states in India, especially Punjab and Haryana, have camped at Delhi’s borders for seven days now, demonstrating against the Centre’s agriculture laws. The farmers had to brave tear gas and water cannons on their march to enter Delhi as the police refused them entry.
The authorities had taken extraordinary measures to set up blockades on highways, parking buses, trucks and other large vehicles. At some places, they even dug up trenches to obstruct farmers, many of whom camped on highways for the night in biting cold. Dramatic scenes unfolded at the borders as the farmers threw barricades set up by the police into a river. They also clashed with the police on a bridge.
Eventually, they were allowed to enter the Capital and were designated a protest site not to their liking. Many chose to camp at the Delhi border, especially at the Tikri and Singhu border crossings.
Here’s a quick recap of Wednesday’s developments:
- Leaders of farmer unions warned that they would “take more steps” if the Centre does not fulfill their demands and abolish the new agricultural laws. They also asked for a special session of Parliament to scrap the laws.
- Thirty-two farmer groups met at Singhu near Delhi and Haryana to discuss their demands, after the Centre asked for written details of the “specific issues” related to the Farm Reforms Acts. The meeting was also attended by Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait.
- Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar once again appealed to farmers to trust the government when it says that the new legislations will bring about necessary reform that will allow farmers to market their produce and boost production through private investment. Earlier in the day, Tomar and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal met Home Minister Amit Shah for the third time this week to find ways to assuage the anger of the farmers.
- The All India Transport Congress, representing about 95 lakh truckers, threatened to halt operations in North India from December 8 if the government failed to address concerns of the farming community.
- The Chandigarh Police used water cannons on Punjab Youth Congress workers, who gathered outside Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s residence. The workers, who were then detained, were demanding apology from the chief minister for the use of force against the protesting farmers.
- The Bar Council said it will write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ask him to repeal the laws. “It [the legislations] are also against the lawyers as it bars the civil court’s jurisdiction and won’t let farmers get justice,” senior advocate HS Phoolka said.
- Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hit back at his Punjab counterpart Amarinder Singh for accusing his government of displaying double standards by notifying one of the Centre’s new farm laws last month. The Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party has extended its support to the protesting farmers. Kejriwal accused Singh of indulging in “low-level” politics in a sensitive situation.