Farm law protests: Farmers reject government's written proposal on possible changes to laws
Opposition parties on Wednesday submitted a memorandum to the President asking to repeal the three agriculture laws and the Electricity Amendment Bill.
Agitating farmers on Wednesday evening rejected a written proposal sent by the Centre, detailing the amendments it is willing to make to the three agriculture laws. The government had said that it was ready to give a written assurance that the Minimum Support Price regime will continue.
Meanwhile, a delegation of Opposition parties met President Ram Nath Kovind and submitted a memorandum asking to repeal the three agriculture laws and the Electricity Amendment Bill.
Earlier in the day, All India Kisan Sabha General Secretary Hannan Mollah said that they will only take note of the government’s proposal if it is on the repeal of the farm laws. He said that the sixth meeting between the government and the farmers for Wednesday is cancelled and can be held on Thursday if they find the Centre’s proposal positive.
Farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting against the laws for nearly two months. The situation escalated 13 days ago, when thousands marched to the Capital, where they clashed with police who used tear gas, water cannons and batons against them. The farmers have since camped along Delhi borders, saying they won’t leave until the government rolls back what they have called the “black laws”.
Here are the top updates of the day:
10.47 pm: Farmers gathered at Nirankari Samagam ground in Delhi’s Burari area, refuse to utilise government amenities, reports ANI.
9 pm: Farmers say that they’ve asked the people to protest against every MP and MLA of the Bharatiya Janata Party, reports NDTV.
8.58 pm: Farmer leader Shiv Kumar Kakka says at a press conference that there was nothing new in the government’s proposal, adding that they “completely rejected” it, reports The Indian Express.
6.19 pm: Farmer leader Darshan Pal says the Agra-Delhi expressway will be blocked on December 12 and that no tolls will be paid on that day at toll plazas across the country, reports PTI.
6.16 pm: Farmer leader Shiv Kumar Kakka says protesters will gherao district headquarters in all states on December 14, reports PTI.
“Farmers might take a call on crossing Singhu border to enter Delhi in coming days,” says Kakka.
6.12 pm: Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar says it is the duty of the government to resolve the matter of farmers’ demands of repealing the agriculture laws, reports ANI.
“There was a request from all opposition parties for in-depth discussion of farm bills and that it should be sent to select committee, but unfortunately no suggestion was accepted and bills were passed in hurry,” says Pawar.
5.57 pm: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi says the farm bills were passed without any discussion, reports PTI.
“The way farm bills were passed, we feel it is an insult to farmers...We sought repeal of farm laws during meeting with President,” says Gandhi.
5.31 pm: Delegation of Opposition parties submits memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind asking to repeal the three agriculture laws and the Electricity Amendment Bill, reports ANI.
5.29 pm: Farmer leaders say they will block the Delhi-Jaipur highway by December 12, reports ANI.
5.28 pm: Agitating farmers reject a written proposal sent by the Centre, detailing the amendments it is willing to make to the three agriculture laws, reports ANI.
4.20 pm: The Centre says it is ready to give a written assurance that the existing Minimum Support Price regime for procurement will continue, according to PTI.
4.17 pm: The government also proposes seven amendments to The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, PTI reports.
4.12 pm: On demands to scrap the proposed Electricity Amendment bill 2020, the government says that there won’t be any change in the existing system of electricity bill payment for farmers, according to PTI.
The Centre also addresses the farmers’ demand to scrap penalty for stubble burning, saying that it is ready to find an appropriate solution.
4.08 pm: The Centre says in its proposal that it is ready to provide the necessary clarification on farmers’ concerns about the laws, PTI reports. It, however, does not make a mention of the key demand of the farmers to repeal the laws.
4.02 pm: The Bharatiya Kisan Union Bhanu says that the Centre is responsible for prolonging the farmers’ agitation, PTI reports.
2.56 pm: “All three farm laws should be repealed,” says Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu, Kisan Sangharsh Committee, Punjab, according to ANI. “This is our demand. If the proposal talks of only amendments then we will reject it.”
2.55 pm: According to NDTV, the government has given written assurance that the minimum support price system will continue.
2.50 pm: Manjeet Singh, Bharatiya Kisan Union state president, Doaba, says that farmers will have a discussion on the proposal sent by the Narendra Modi government, reports ANI.
2.35 pm: Farmer leaders at Singhu border receive a proposal from the Centre, a day after their meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah failed to resolve the deadlock, reports ANI. The proposal has the amendments that the Centre is willing to make to the three farm laws.
2.09 pm: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan says the Opposition parties, who are supposed to meet President Ram Nath Kovind over the new laws in the evening, themselves made the farmers he farmers bankrupt during their tenure, ANI reports.
He thanks the farmers of Madhya Pradesh for not participating in the nationwide strike on Tuesday. “Farmers are standing with the PM,” he says. “Our government is that of the farmers and poor, we will leave no stone unturned for [the] farmers’ welfare.”
2.07 pm: Congress leader Digvijaya Singh says that the farm laws must be repealed, ANI reports. “[Narendra] Modi ji should leave his stubbornness,” he says. “It is a matter of farmers, such stubbornness is not right for anyone. All three laws should be repealed.”
He also suggests the formation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to find a solution to the standoff over the laws.
1.32 pm: Bharatiya Kisan Union Spokesperson Rakesh Tikait says the farmers are adamant that the Centre withdraw the three laws, ANI reports. “We’ll strategise in our meeting and discuss their [the Centre’s] proposal,” he says. “Farmers won’t go back, it’s a matter of their respect.”
He adds: “Will government not withdraw laws? Will there be tyranny? If government is stubborn, so are farmers. [The] law has to be withdrawn.”
11.38 am: Congressman Brad Sherman, co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, says that it is unsurprising that Indian farmers are worried about the recent agricultural reforms. “As we know from our own experience in the US [United States], citizens have every right to protest peaceably, be accommodated & their concerns listened to,” tweets Sherman. “The farmers yearning to be heard are another powerful example of how peaceful protest is just one of the many cherished democratic traditions binding our countries together.”
11.31 am: Shiromani Akali Dal workers are providing free diesel at a petrol pump at Delhi-Amritsar national highway to farmers heading to the national Capital to join the agitation against the farm laws, reports ANI. “We have started this to encourage more and more people of Punjab to join the agitation and further strengthen it,” says Shiromani Akali Dal worker Gursharan Singh. “We are doing this with the help of the local youth and our NRI [Non-resident Indian] friends.”
11.19 am: All India Kisan Sabha General Secretary Hannan Mollah says they will only take note of the government’s proposal if it is on the repeal of the farm laws, reports ANI. Mollah says that the meeting between the government and the farmers for Wednesday is cancelled. “If the letter comes and we consider it positive, the meeting can be held tomorrow,” he says.
The general secretary adds that a broader farmers’ committee will review the government’s proposal at 12 pm.
9.07 am: Congress leader P Chidambaram says the Centre’s refusal to repeal the agricultural laws shows that it is inspired by United States President Donald Trump’s policy of “Trumpism”, reports NDTV. In an interview with the channel, Chidambaram said: “This attitude of the government, I won’t consult anyone, I won’t consult the opposition...I will pass a law. If you force a vote, will ensure there is no vote in the house. There was no vote in the Rajya Sabha. This is known as Trumpism. Trumpism is the word that describes what the Modi government is doing.”
9.06 am: Farmer leaders claimed on Tuesday their Bharat Bandh against the new farm laws was successful and had an impact in 25 states, reports PTI. They said the “super bandh” made the government “open its eyes and ears”.
9.05 am: Farmers continue to camp near Delhi borders to protest the new agricultural laws for the 14th day.
9.01 am: The Centre will send a written proposal to farmers, detailing the scope of negotiations over the new agricultural laws. Leaders of farmer unions will meet at the Singhu border at noon to deliberate on the government’s proposal.
8.55 am: Here are the top updates from Tuesday
- A Bharat Bandh, or a countrywide shutdown, was observed from 11 am to 3 pm by the farmers who are protesting against the new agricultural laws. Heavy contingents of police in riot gear patrolled the areas where the farmers were assembled.
- Opposition parties announced a meeting with President Ramnath Kovind on Wednesday at 5 pm. The joint delegation of five members will include Rahul Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, among others. Pawar said that leaders will discuss and take a collective stand on the farm laws before the meeting.
- All India Kisan Sabha leader Hannan Mollah said the sixth round of talks between the government and the Centre, scheduled for Wednesday, has been cancelled. His statement came after 13 farmer leaders met Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Mollah said that the minister told them that a proposal will be given to the farmer leaders on Wednesday.
- The Aam Aadmi Party alleged that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was put under house arrest by the police after he went to meet the farmers at Singhu border on Monday. Chief Chandrashekhar Azad was also detained at his residence before he joined the Bharat Bandh.
- Punjab agriculturalist Dr Varinder Pal Singh refused to accept an award from the Centre as a gesture of support to farmers protesting against the government’s agricultural laws. Singh, the principal soil chemist at the Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana, said that his conscience would not allow it at a time of crisis when “our farmers are on the roads”.