Union Agriculture Minister NS Tomar on Monday said the government was ready to discuss every clause of the three contentious farm laws with the protesting farmers. On December 9, they had rejected the Centre’s written proposal on the amendments to the three laws, and threatened to intensify their protests. Tomar added that 10 organisations associated with the All India Kisan Coordination Committee have extended their support on the three laws.
Meanwhile, farmers protesting against the Centre’s agricultural laws near Delhi began a hunger strike. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also joined the fasting protestors. Tomar said that “anti-Modi” elements and not the farmers were participating in the protests.
The farmers agitation against the laws entered the 19th day on Monday. Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting at key entry points to Delhi. The farmers fear the agricultural reforms will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce, will lead to the deregulation of crop-pricing, deny them fair remuneration for their produce and leave them at the mercy of corporations.
10.15 pm: The Shiromani Akali Dal on Monday said the crisis over the new farm laws wouldn’t have arisen had the government followed a federal approach, reports PTI. In a statement, party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said that under the current regime, the country has seen a dangerous slide into an increasingly autocratic system.
10.10 pm: Members of the farmers’ body Sanyukt Kisan Morcha on Monday apologise with folded hands, for the inconvenience their agitation may have caused to the citizens of Delhi and Haryana, saying they were protesting “out of compulsion”, reports PTI.
Members of the organisation also distributed handbills in Hindi to commuters on the Jaipur-Delhi Highway near Haryana-Rajasthan borders, where hundreds of farmers have been camping for almost past three weeks now, to convey their apology, and also reiterate their demand for legal guarantee for Minimum Support Price.
7.57 pm: Over 2,000 women from the families of farmers protesting against the Centre’s new agricultural laws at Singhu border will join the ongoing agitation in the coming days, reports PTI.
7.43 pm: Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh says that the Centre is open for discussion on the farm laws, adding that there is no question of taking any “retrograde steps” against the agriculture sector, reports News18.
“The recent reforms have been undertaken with the best interests of India’s farmers in mind,” Singh says. “We are, however, always willing to listen to our farmer brothers, alley their misgivings and provide them with assurances we can provide. Our Government is always open to discussion and dialogue.”
7.40 pm: Social activist Anna Hazare writes to Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, saying that he will launch hunger strike against the Narendra Modi government if it does not resolve the matters raised by the farmers, reports ANI.
5.34 pm: Lawmakers and legislators of Haryana meet Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar at Krishi Bhavan, as farmers continue their agitation against the new farm laws.
5.32 pm: A group of farmers protesting the new agricultural laws at the Singhu border, breaks their day-long fast, reports ANI.
4.58 pm: The memorandum signed by the 10 organisations pledging their support to the new laws.
4.57 pm: The Rajasthan farmers block the Delhi-Jaipur highway at Shahjahanpur in Alwar district as the police stop them from marching towards the Capital, reports PTI. The farmers are camping at Jaisinghpur-Khera border in Shahjahanpur under the leadership of Swaraj Abhiyan chief Yogendra Yadav. “I have one simple question to RSS-affiliated BKS and SJM. Do they support the farm laws in the existing form? Let them come clear on this,” says Yadav.
4.48 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says his party is with the farmers, reports ANI. “Our farmers are in peril these days,” he says as he joins the fasting farmers. “Those who should be tilling their fields are sitting in the biting cold. But I’m happy people in the country including army, lawyers, actors, doctors, are with them. We are with farmers too.”
4.45 pm: Agriculture Minister NS Tomar says government is ready to discuss ever clause of the laws. “They’ll give their opinion on our proposal, we’ll definitely hold further talks,” he adds.
4.40 pm: Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala says the next round of discussions will be held soon. “I hope 40 unions who came for talks earlier, will also join the next round of talks as well and come to a conclusion,” he tells ANI.
3.22 pm: Aam Aadmi Party leader Raghav Chadha says those calling the farmers protesting against the new agriculture laws as “anti-nationals” are themselves against the country and they should go to Pakistan, reports India Today.
2.48 pm: 10 organisations from states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana and Haryana, associated with the All India Kisan Coordination Committee, are meeting Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar to extend their support on three farm laws, reports ANI.
2.40 pm: Aam Aadmi Party Ministers and MLAs hold a hunger strike in support of the protesting farmers in Delhi, reports ANI. Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, ministers Satyendar Jain, Gopal Rai and party leader Aatishi Marlena are present at the spot.
1.39 pm: The farmers block the national highway near the Ghazipur border, ANI reports.
1.36 pm: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh says the government undertook agricultural reforms with the best interests of farmers in mind, ANI reports.
“We are, however, always willing to listen to our farmer brothers, allay their misgivings and provide them with assurances,” he adds. “Our government is always open to discussion and dialogue.”
12.19 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says “fasting is sacred”. “Wherever you are, fast for our peasant brothers,” he tweets. “Pray to God for the success of their struggle. In the end, farmers will definitely win.”
12.18 pm: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has reached Home Minister Amit Shah’s residence amid a nine-hour hunger strike by protesting farmer leaders, reports ANI.
12.15 pm: Union Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary appeals to farmers to sit with the government and resolve concerns related to the farm bills, reports ANI. “If farmers want to get something added to these bills, it’s very much possible but it can’t be an absolute ‘Yes or No’,” he says. “Sitting together leads to a solution.”
11.10 am: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar says “anti-Modi” elements and not the farmers are participating in the protests, Hindustan Times reports.
“The government has successfully initiated dialogue but the farmers’ union have not been able to reach at a unanimous decision,” he says. “Those who believe in the Left ideology are influencing these protests. Attempts are being made to release traitors.”
Tomar adds: “This is condemnable and these elements are stopping the movement from arriving at a verdict. And these elements are not farmers, but those who are against Modi [Prime Minister Narendra Modi].”
11.08 am: The Ghazipur border is closed due to the farmers’ protest, the Delhi Traffic police say. Singhu, Auchandi, Piau Maniyari, Sabholi and Mangesh borders are also shut.
11.00 am: Gurnam Singh Chaduni, the president of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Haryana), says the Centre is misleading everyone on minimum support price, ANI reports. “Home Minister Amit Shah replied to us during the December 8 meet that they can’t buy all 23 crops at MSP as its costs Rs 17 lakhs crores,” he says.
Chaduni adds: “Centre will continue buying crops at the same amount, as they use to before, that’s what ‘buying at MSP’ means for them. But we can’t survive on that anymore. And Centre is not buying crops at MSP from all states.”
10.46 am: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hits back at his Punjab counterpart Amarinder Singh for accusing him of exploiting the farmers protest for political gains.
“Captain ji, I stood with the farmers from the beginning,” he tweets. “I did not let Delhi’s stadiums be turned into jails, I fought the Centre. “I am serving the farmers. You colluded with the Centre to get your son’s ED [Enforcement Directorate] case quashed and sold the farmers’ movement? Why?”
10.40 am: The farmers stage a protest at Shahjahanpur near the Rajasthan-Haryana border for the second day, ANI reports.
10.36 am: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday said that calling farmers anti-national is not what Indian culture is, according to India Today. “One thing you need to understand is that you are doing injustice to our farmers and then you call them anti-national?” he said. “This is not our culture. Instead of talking to our farmers, BJP is calling them Pakistani, anti-national.”
10.31 am: Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Taktait denies reports of a rift between farmers’ groups after three leaders from the union’s Bhanu faction resign, ANI reports. “They resigned because they were upset with their President Bhanu Pratap Singh, as to why he compromised,” he says.
Bhanu Pratap Singh had on Sunday decided to open the highway at Chilla border after meeting Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
10.29 am: Farmers sit on a hunger strike at the Tikri border.
8.40 am: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh accuses his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal of exploiting the farmers’ protest for electoral agenda in Punjab, ANI reports. Singh calls Kejriwal a “shameless liar”.
8.30 am: Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh leader Shiv Kumar Kakka says that Union home minister Amit Shah, during the talks with farmers on December 8, admitted that the Centre had made the mistake of not consulting farmers on the news laws, Hindustan Times reports.
8.25 am: The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation or IRCTC issues a clarification on reports that it sent nearly 2 crore emails between December 8 and December 12 to its Sikh customers about the decisions taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the community, amid the farmers’ protest, PTI reports.
“The mails have been sent to all, irrespective of any particular community,” IRCTC says. “This is not the first instance. Earlier also such activities have been undertaken by IRCTC to promote government welfare schemes in public interest.”
8.15 am: The Supreme Court will on December 16 hear a petition seeking the immediate removal of protesting farmers from several border points of Delhi, PTI reports. The petitioners argued that commuters were facing troubles due to the road blockades and that the gatherings might lead to a rise in the number of coronavirus cases.
8.10 am: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch says the farmers should be guaranteed minimum support price for their crops and purchases below the MSP should be declared illegal, PTI reports. The organisation says that private parties should also be barred from buying below the MSP.
8 am: The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Bhanu) saw an internal disagreement over the opening of the Delhi-Noida highway at Chilla border on Sunday, according to NDTV.
The union’s President Thakur Bhanu Pratap Singh decided to open the highway after a meeting with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Yogesh Pratap, the organisation’s Uttar Pradesh chief, opposed the decision, adding that he would fast unto death at the site.
Here’s what happened on Sunday
- Farmers protesting against the Centre’s three agricultural laws started a tractor march from Shahjahanpur on the Rajasthan-Haryana border on Sunday, causing the Delhi-Jaipur highway to shut down. The highway opened partially after being closed for three hours.
- Leaders of farmers’ unions announced they will hold a hunger strike from 8 am to 5 pm on Monday. The farmers will also stage protests at all district headquarters.
- Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that he will fast with the farmers.
- Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar accused the Opposition parties of running a propaganda against the new farm laws. He made the remark while addressing a delegation of over 100 farmers from Uttarakhand, who met him to extend their support to the laws.
- Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was offering the farmers a “gift” that they didn’t want. He joined the farmers for a rally on the Delhi-Jaipur highway. Yadav referred to the Centre’s negotiations with the farmers as “strange”. “They [the Centre] are forcing a gift, which is unwanted in the first place,” he said. “The prime minister says it’s a historic gift, but farmers don’t want it.
- The Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh said that the farmers were clear about their demand for the withdrawal of the three laws. “All farmer unions participating in this movement are together,” the group’s president Shiv Kumar Kakka said.