Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Friday claimed that some “anti-social elements” were plotting to spoil the atmosphere of the farmers’ movement, reported PTI. He also appealed to the protesting farmers to ensure that their platform was not being misused.

“A proposal to resolve the farmers’ objection has also been sent to the farmers’ union and the government is ready for further discussion,” Tomar said. “Anti-social elements are conspiring to spoil the atmosphere of the peasant movement under the guise of farmers. I appeal to the peasant brothers to be vigilant and not provide their platform to such anti-social elements.”

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad claimed there was evidence of a “sinister design” in the ongoing demonstrations against the farm laws, and that it was being overtaken by the “tukde tukde gang”, reported India Today. “Tukde-tukde gang” is a term used to target people the BJP and its supporters allege are out to balkanise India.

“It is possible that the negotiations [between the government and farmers’ unions] failed due to them,” he added. The Union minister made the remarks, noting the posters at the protests expressing solidarity with former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid, and student activist Sharjeel Imam.

Earlier in the day, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the Centre was ready to hold discussions with farmers, adding that “they want people like Sharjeel Imam to be released”. Imam and Khalid are currently lodged in jail in connection with the violence that broke out in North East Delhi in February.

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party’s National General Secretary Tarun Chugh said that a “misleading and deceptive narrative” was being created on the farm laws, reported PTI. “No corporate house or private buyers can touch the land of a farmer,” he said. “The impact of these reforms will transform India’s agricultural and food processing industries.”

Chugh added that private sector investments will come in from across the entire cold chain, curbing losses and ensuring better prices for farmers. “These decisions have identified the farmer as a producer and his produce as a product,” he added. “Now, farmers are being helped to grow into a big market force.”

Farmers protests

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.

The farmers fear the laws will lead to the deregulation of crop-pricing, deny them fair remuneration for their produce and leave them at the mercy of corporations. The government, on the other hand, maintains that the new laws will give farmers more options in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies.

The farmers have rejected the government’s proposal to amend three controversial laws on Wednesday and called for a nationwide protest on December 14.

Opposition parties have also criticised the reforms, saying they would benefit big business and not farmers. They have urged President Ram Nath Kovind to ask the government to accept farmers’ demands.