Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar on Thursday appealed to the farmers to “not fall prey to the white lies” of the Opposition about the new agricultural laws. The minister, in an eight-page open letter, added that the Narendra Modi-government was committed to their welfare and stressed that the new legislations were aimed at benefiting them.
Protesting farmers, meanwhile, said they are willing to hold more talks with the government but they will not end their agitation. This came after the Supreme Court, while hearing a bunch of petitions seeking removal of farmers from various borders of the Capital, said that it had sympathy for them, but they cannot sit on protest for years.
Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting at key entry points to Delhi for 22 days. 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.
Read today’s top updates
10.53 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi shares the eight-page open letter by Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar, and urges all farmers and citizens to read it.
10.50 pm: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar appeals to the farmers to “not fall prey to the white lies” of the Opposition about the new agricultural laws, reports PTI. The minister, in an eight-page open letter to farmers, adds that the Narendra Modi-government is committed to their welfare and stressed that the new legislations were aimed at benefiting them.
“Many farmers’ unions have supported farm laws,” Tomar adds. “But some farmer groups have created confusion. Being an agriculture minister, it is my duty to remove misconceptions and address concerns of every farmer. It is also my duty to expose the conspiracy being hatched around Delhi and present the truth and facts before you.”
7.35 pm: The Centre releases an e-booklet highlighting the success stories of farmers who have benefited from contract farming after enactment of the new agricultural legislations, reports PTI.
In the 100-page release titled “Putting Farmers First”, the government says it has made clear the “truth” about the the farm reforms and has mentioned “what will happen” and “what will not happen” for farmers. It also asserts that reforms in the farm sector were undertaken “step by step” in the last six years keeping in mind the needs of farmers.
7.32 pm: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar pens down an open letter to the protesting farmers, once again appealing to them to end their agitation, reports ANI. Tomar writes that “misunderstandings are being created among farmer unions” regarding the contentious agricultural laws.
7.18 pm: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath claims that the Opposition is lending support to the farmers’ agitation to fuel unrest in the country because they “cannot tolerate” Prime Minister Modi’s plan to construct a Ram temple in Ayodhya, reports NDTV. “Those who cannot tolerate that a grand Ram temple is being built in Ayodhya are angry because Modi has even kickstarted the construction of a grand Ram temple,” the Bharatiya Janata Party leader says.
5.54 pm: The Gazipur border is closed for vehicular movement due to the ongoing farmers’ agitation near the area, according to an advisory by the Delhi Traffic Police.
5.51 pm: National Coordinator of Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh KV Biju says the farmers’ group has decided to consult four senior lawyers of the Supreme Court about the ongoing case on the protests near the Delhi borders, reports ANI. The advocates are Prashant Bhushan, Dushyant Dave, HS Phoolka and Colin Gonsalves, Biju says.
5.47 pm: The Delhi High Court refuses to entertain a plea seeking medical and health facilities on the outskirts of the Capital, where the farmers have been protesting against the new farm laws, reports the Hindustan Times. A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan says the matter is already pending with the Supreme Court. The court further notes that it does not have the jurisdiction over the matter as the agitation is taking place near the borders of Delhi.
5.42 pm: The Nationalist Congress Party demands that Prime Minister Narendra Modi convene a special Parliament session to address the concerns of the farmers, reports PTI.
“We are observing since the last 22 days that thousands of farmers are in the vicinity of Delhi and opposing the farm laws which were hurriedly passed [in Parliament] by the Modi government.” party spokesperson Mahesh Tapase says. “The NCP demands that the prime minister convene a special session of Parliament, where the farmers concerns and apprehensions are addressed.”
Tapase adds that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre “does not seem to be sympathising with the protestors”.
4.31 pm: Union home minister Amit Shah, along with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar and commerce minister Piyush Goyal, arrive at the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters to attend a meeting with party general secretaries on the farmers’ agitation, reports ANI.
4.29 pm: “I want to ask the Centre, how many sacrifices farmers will have to make, to get their voices heard,” Kejriwal adds. He is speaking at a special session of the Delhi Assembly called to discuss the farmers’ protest.
4.24 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hits out at the Centre for hurriedly passing the contentious agricultural laws, as he tears a copy of the legislations in the Assembly to mark his protest, reports ANI. He is addressing a special session of the Delhi Assembly called to discuss the farmers’ agitation.
“What was the hurry to get the farm laws passed in Parliament during the [coronavirus] pandemic?” he asks. “It has happened for the first time that three laws were passed without voting in Rajya Sabha...I hereby tear the three farm laws in this Assembly and appeal to the Centre to not become worst than the Britishers.”
4.20 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Friday address farmers in Madhya Pradesh, amid massive protests against the new farm laws, reports News18. Modi’s address will begin at 2 pm via video link, and will be telecast to around 23,000 villagers of the state.
4.09 pm: Farmers camping near the Tikri border on the outskirts of Delhi say they are ready to hold more talks with the government but they will not end their protests, reports ANI. They also demand that the government should telecast the live proceedings of their meetings, alleging that the Centre is taking the help of the Supreme Court to get them to end their agitation.
3.01 pm: Aam Aadmi Party MLA Mahendra Goyal tears a copy of Centre’s farm laws during a special session of Delhi Assembly called to discuss farmers’ agitation, reports ANI. “I refuse to accept these black laws which are against farmers,’ he says.
2.44 pm: Gujarat Agriculture Minister RC Faldu says that the gross value of agriculture produce of the state touched Rs 1.73 lakh crore last year because of the farm laws, The Indian Express reports. “It was merely a few thousands crore a few years ago,” he said addressing farmers’ meet in Savarkundla, Amreli.
2.41 pm: Delhi Traffic Police says one of the carriageways from Delhi to Noida is open for traffic, while the other is closed.
2.38 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a meeting with farmers in Madhya Pradesh on Friday, reports NDTV. His address, scheduled for 2 pm, will be telecast to 23,000 villages.
2.02 pm: The Supreme Court adds that the farmers cannot block the city while protesting, The Times of India reports.
1.49 pm: The Supreme Court says that it will not interfere with the right of the farmers to protest, Live Law reports. “You carry on the protest,” the bench says. “The purpose of protest must be served to talking to someone. You cannot sit in protest for years.”
The court, however, adds that it is sympathetic towards the farmers, The Indian Express reports. “We are familiar with the plight of the farmers. We are Indians.”
1.08 pm: Chief Justice of India SA Bobde says protest is constitutional till it does not destroy property or endanger life, reports Bar and Bench.
“Protest has a goal and that purpose cannot be achieved by sitting in protest,” says Bobde. “Centre and farmers have to talk. We will facilitate it.”
12.52 pm: The Supreme Court says it will only decide today regarding the farmers’ protest and the fundamental right of citizens to move. “The question of the validity of laws can wait,” says the court.
12.50 pm: The Supreme Court begins to hear a bunch of petitions related to the farmers’ agitation.
12.49 pm: Farmer organisations at Singhu and Tikri say they are preparing lists of people who died during the protest to help their families, reports The Indian Express. According to the farm unions, more than 20 people have died so far.
12.45 pm: A farmer from Punjab was found dead at a protest site near the Delhi-Haryana border, reports NDTV. Reports suggest he died of the freezing cold.
12.42 pm: Six farmer leaders in Uttar Pradesh’s Sambhal city have been asked to submit personal bonds of Rs 50 lakh each for allegedly trying to “instigate” farmers in the area, amid protests against the Centre’s agricultural laws.
12.37 pm: Satnam Singh, the head of the Jamhuri Kisan Sabha (Punjab, Haryana and Jammu & Kashmir), says they do not have any written notice that they were a part of the farmers’ representation.
12.35 pm: The Confederation of All India Traders says they have written to Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Piyush Goyal for giving due representation in the panel proposed by the Supreme Court, reports ANI.
11.10 am: A farmer protesting at the Delhi-Haryana border allegedly dies of cold, reports NDTV. The farmer had three children of ages 10, 12 and 14, according to the reports.
11.04 am: Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav says the farmers’ protest would not stop till the government listens.
10.59 am: United Kingdom Labour MP Preet Kaur Gill writes to country’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on the use of tear gas and water cannons against protesting farmers in India. “The UK must stand up for democratic freedoms & work with partners to protect and champion them,” Gill tweets.
10.55 am: Social activist PV Rajagopal offers to mediate between the agitating farmers and the government, reports PTI. The activist says he would embark on a foot-march from Morena to Delhi on Thursday in support of the farmers.
10.49 am: Bhartiya Kisan Union Doaba member MS Rai says they have not recived any notice from the Supreme Court yet, reports ANI. Rai adds that all the farmers’ unions will hold a discussion and taken a decision when they get the notice.
8.20 am: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Wednesday said that lakhs of farmers are supporting the laws, even as the others near stage protests Delhi, ANI reports. “Today [Wednesday], thousands of farmers gathered in Gwalior for it [to show support for the laws].”
8.10 am: The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, a platform of farmers’ unions, asks the Centre not to hold parallel negotiations with farmers and stop discrediting their protest, Hindustan Times reports.
8 am: The Supreme Court will on Thursday continue its hearing of the petitions to remove farmers from Delhi’s border points, Live Law reports. On Wednesday, the court allowed the impleadment of eight farmers’ unions in the petitions.
Here is a recap of the events from Wednesday
- The Supreme Court proposed the formation of a committee comprising representatives of farmers and the government. The court noted that the government’s negotiations with farmers won’t work. It said that the standoff over the new laws will have to be resolved urgently “otherwise this will soon become a national issue”.
- A 65-year-old priest from Haryana, who had joined the farmers protest at the Delhi border, died by suicide. In a note, Baba Ram Singh has said he was sacrificing his life “to express anger and pain against the government’s injustice”.
- The farmers officially rejected the Centre’s written proposal on the amendments it was willing to make to the three agriculture laws as protests intensified.
- BJP chief JP Nadda said that farmers’ interest is always the top priority for the Narendra Modi government as the agitation against the agricultural laws continued for 21st straight day.
- The farmers blocked the Delhi Noida highway near Chilla border. The Jaipur-Delhi highway was also partially blocked.