Farm leaders on Monday said they were always ready for dialogue as long as there is a some “concrete solution”. They added that a letter from the Centre on Sunday only sought a date for the next round of talks.
On Sunday, the agriculture ministry asked protestors to specify their concerns over its draft proposal of amendments to the three new laws. On December 9, the Centre had proposed to make amendments related to at least seven matters, and provide a “written assurance” on the continuation of the minimum support price.
Meanwhile, the protesting farmers began a day-long relay hunger strike to step up pressure on the Centre to revoke the three new farm laws. The protests at Delhi’s borders – Singhu, Tikri, UP Gate, and Chilla – entered its 26th day on Monday.
The Kerala government, meanwhile, decided to convene a special Assembly session on December 23 to reject the three farm laws.
5.45 pm: Union minister Ramdas Athawale says if the Centre should not bow down to protests as it will set a bad precedent, reports PTI. The Republican Party of India(A) leader adds that the farmers’ demand of repealing the laws is illegitimate. “The law has been passed by majority in Parliament,” he says. “If such laws are withdrawn because there are protests against it, then it would be a precedent for every law passed on the floor of the House, which will put the Constitution and parliamentary democracy in danger.”
5.41 pm: A 65-year-old farmer from Punjab’s Tarn Taran blames Narendra Modi and Amit Shah for forcing him to attempt suicide, reports NDTV. On Monday morning, Niranjan Singh consumed a poisonous substance while protesting at Singhu but was saved after being taken to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Rohtak. “I am feeling good,” he tells NDTV. “This government at least acts when an incident like suicide happens. In normal course, if a person attempts suicide, the one who pushes the victim to suicide is booked by the police. In my case, Amit Shah and PM Modi should be booked. How will anyone survive if farmers do not?”
5.35 pm: Farm leaders say they are always ready for dialogue as long as there is a some “concrete solution”, reports PTI. They add that the letter from the Centre on Sunday only sought a date for the next round of talks. “On this issue [government’s proposal], we did not talk to them earlier,” Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait tells the news agency. “We are currently discussing how to respond to the government letter.”
5.30 pm: Members of farmers’ organisation proceed to join those protesting in Delhi.
2.09 pm: Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait says he and other union leaders will go and meet the farmer groups that are supporting the new agricultural laws, reports ANI. “We will take information from them about how they are benefitting from the laws and will learn the technology they are using to sell their crops,” he adds.
12.54 pm: Protesting farmers at the Singhu border have turned their tractors and trolleys into mini-homes – with beds, blankets, music system, groceries, water and other essentials, reports The Indian Express.
12.46 pm: Visuals of farmers protesting at the Tikri border with Delhi, reports ANI.
11.31 am: Kisan Sanyukt Morcha chief Rampal Singh says the farmers’ agitation will continue till the Centre does take back the agricultural laws, ANI reports. “This agitation has been on for 3 to 4 months,” he says. “We first fought against these laws in Punjab and then brought the protest to Delhi.”
11.18 am: The Kerala government decides to convene a special Assembly session on December 23 to reject the three farm laws, ANI reports. Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac says that the state stands in solidarity with the farmers.
10.15 am: Farmers protesting near the Delhi-Haryana border warn they will further intensify their agitation, as they begin the relay-hunger strike, reports ANI. “Everyday 11 farmers will sit on hunger strike for 24 hours,” Bharatiya Kisan Union (Punjab) Secretary Balwant Singh tells the news agency.
10.10 am: The Congress criticises Narendra Modi for making an unplanned visit to a Gurdwara amid the farmers’ protests, and asks why the prime minister did not go to the border areas of Delhi where they are protesting, reports The Hindu.
“It is always a good thing to go to a gurudwara, go to a mandir,” party spokesperson Shama Mohamed says. “You know, we all Indians are very spiritual people and I appreciate the prime minister going there. At the same time farmers are protesting in this bitter cold at the border, 33 of them have died during the agitation. They say that pradhan mantri [PM] is a man who loves this country and people. Where is the empathy from the pradhan mantri?”
10.04 am: Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Khattar tries to allay the fears of farmers over the new laws, saying he would quit politics if anyone tries to dismantle the Minimum Support Price regime, reports the Hindustan Times.
“MSP will always be there,” Khattar says while addressing a public gathering in Haryana’s Narnaul. “If someone tries to abolish it, Manohar Lal Khattar will leave politics. MSP was there in the past, it is present now and it will remain in the future as well.”
8.50 am: The Delhi Police say Tikri, Dhansa borders are closed for any traffic movement, reports ANI. Jhatikara borders is open only for two-wheelers and pedestrian movement.
What are the three farm laws?
The Parliament 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.
Taken together, the three legislations loosen regulations on the sale, pricing and storage of agricultural produce. They allow farmers to sell outside mandis notified by the Agricultural Produce Market Committee. They enable contract farming through deals with private sector companies. They take food items like cereals and pulses off the list of essential commodities, lifting stock limits on such produce.
Farmers and traders have alleged that the government wants to discontinue the minimum support price regime in the name of reforms. They fear that the laws will leave them at the mercy of corporate powers. The government has maintained that farm laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.
The government claims the new laws would give farmers the freedom to sell in the open market. But farmers say the laws will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce, leave farmers to the mercy of market forces and threaten food security.
Most Opposition parties and farmers’ organisations across the country have strongly opposed the bills. The Shiromani Akali Dal, one of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s oldest allies, pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance in protest against these bills. Opposition parties have also urged President Ram Nath Kovind to ask the government to accept farmers’ demands.
8.30 am: The Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan), the biggest independent organisation behind the farmers’ protests, has been asked by a central agency to submit its registration details that allow the group to receive foreign funds, reports Hindustan Times. The association has claimed they are being targeted.
8.20 am: The central government on Sunday asked protesting farmer groups to specify their concerns over its earlier proposal of amendments to the new farm laws and select a date convenient for the next round of discussions, reports PTI.
8.10 am: The Samajwadi Party on Sunday said it would conduct a special drive on December 25 when its political leaders will visit villages in Uttar Pradesh, reports PTI.
8 am: Farmers at Ghazipur border with Delhi have set up “neki ki divar [wall of goodness], and observe “Shradhanjali Diwas [day of homage]”, reports News18.
Here are the updates from Sunday:
- Farmers held prayer meetings across the country to pay their respects to the protestors who died during the ongoing agitation against the new agricultural laws. The call for the “Shradhanjali Diwas [day of homage]” was given by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, a joint front of farmer unions.
- Union Home Minister Amit Shah on said that Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar would meet the farmers protesting against the farm laws on Monday or Tuesday to end their stir. Several rounds of talks with farmers’ representatives have failed to break the impasse.
- Loktantrik Party chief Hanuman Beniwal, whose party is an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party, resigned from three Lok Sabha committees to mark his protest against the new farm laws. The Nagaur lawmaker submitted his resignation to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.
- The farmers gave a call for a day-long relay hunger strike at all protest sites. It will be started by a team of 11 members at protest sites first.
- Facebook on Sunday evening restored the page of Kisan Ekta Morcha that has been sharing updates on the farmers’ protest against the Centre’s farm laws after having deleted it a few hours earlier. It was not immediately clear for how long the page had been taken taken.