Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday appealed to the protesting farmers to read a letter from Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, in which he sought to reassure them about the benefits of the new legislations.
Tomar’s eight-page letter to the agitating farmers was released after a meeting of the Union ministers and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Amit Shah, Nirmala Sitharaman, Piyush Goyal and JP Nadda.
“Agriculture minister Narendra Tomar Ji, by writing to farmer brothers and sisters, has expressed his feelings and tried to engage in a humble dialogue,” Modi said in a tweet. “I urge all ‘annadatas’ [farmers] to read the letter. I request the people of the country to help this letter reach more and more citizens.”
Tomar, in his letter to the farmers, said that it was his duty to dispel misconceptions about the farming laws, which have triggered protests across the country. He also urged the farmers not to believe the “white lies” of the Opposition.
The agriculture minister again assured the farmers that minimum support price will continue and the existing mandi system will be made stronger. Tomar said that he belonged to a family engaged in farming and understood the challenges of the occupation.
“The Narendra Modi-led government has done a lot for the farmers in the last six years,” read the letter. “The government, with the new laws, has sought to provide the farmers the freedom to sell their produce anywhere they want.” Tomar assured the farmers that not even an inch of their land will be taken away. The letter, however, did not have a fresh proposal for the farmers.
Earlier on Thursday, the Supreme Court asked Attorney General KK Venugopal if the three contentious agriculture laws can be put on hold till the hearing on petitions seeking removal of farmers from various borders of Delhi was underway.
The court also noted that a protest is constitutional till it does not destroy property or endanger life. “Protest has a goal and that purpose cannot be achieved by sitting in protest,” Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said. “Centre and farmers have to talk. We will facilitate it.”
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court had proposed the formation of a committee comprising representatives of both the sides to end the standoff. The court said that the crisis will have to be resolved urgently “otherwise this will soon become a national issue”.
Farmers have been protesting against the three agricultural laws near Delhi for 23 straight days amid the biting cold. They remain firm on their demand that the government repeal the three laws, which they fear will weaken the minimum support price mechanism and leave them at the mercy of corporate houses.
The farmers and the Centre have held several rounds of talks to resolve the deadlock over the new laws but there has been little progress.