The leaders of farmers’ unions and the Centre will hold another round of talks on December 9 to resolve the impasse over the agricultural laws, ANI reported. The fifth meeting between the two sides on Saturday lasted for more than four hours.

The previous discussion between the farmers and the Centre on Tuesday and Thursday had also ended in a stalemate.

The farmers’ representatives said that the Centre will send a proposal to them on the day of the next meeting. “We will discuss it amongst ourselves after which a meeting with them will be held that day,” they told ANI.

During Saturday’s meeting, the farmers warned that they have enough supplies to continue their agitation till there is a breakthrough. “We have material with us to last a year they said,” they said. “We’ve been on road for past several days. If government wants us to stay on road, we’ve no problem.”

The protesting farmers, however, said that their agitation would not turn violent. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, on the other hand, appealed to the farmers’ representatives to send elderly people and children at protest sites home. He urged the farmers to “leave path of agitation and come to path of discussion”.

The representatives of farmers’ unions went on a silent protest during the meeting and demanded that the Centre just say “yes or no” to their demands, PTI reported. “All members of delegation have decided to keep silent,” All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee member Kavitha Kuruganti said. “The government side is trying to draw us out. But there is utter silence from our side.”

The farmers also asked the government to reply in “black and white” whether it will roll back the agricultural laws or not.

Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait told ANI that the “Bharat Bandh” called by the farmers will continue as planned on December 8.

The government said after the meeting that there were would be no threat to minimum support price system. “It is baseless to doubt this,” Tomar said. “Still, if someone is suspicious, then the government is ready to resolve it [the concern].”

He also said that the Centre will make all possible efforts to strengthen Agricultural Produce Market Committees. “I want to assure farmers that Modi government was fully committed to you, and will remain so in future,” Tomar continued. “Under PM Modi’s leadership, several agricultural schemes have been implemented. Budget and MSP has also increased.”

Tens of thousands of farmers have camped out at the entrance to Delhi for the tenth consecutive day to reverse the agricultural legislation’s. The farmers agitation has been met with violent action from police, who have attempted to turn them back by using water cannons and tear gas. 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 chilling temperatures.

What are the 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.

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.

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