Farmers protesting against the new agriculture laws on Tuesday said they will not appear before the Supreme Court-appointed committee to resolve the matter, as its members supported the legislations and were “pro-government”, PTI reported.

“The members of the committee are not dependable as they have been writing on how agriculture laws are pro-farmer,” Balbeer Singh Rajewal of Bharatiya Kisan Union said, at a press conference held by the protestors on Tuesday evening. He said the farmers were against the committee on principle and it was the government’s way to divert attention from the protests, adding that the agitation will continue, PTI reported.

Darshan Pal, chief of Krantikari Kisan Union said they will not appear before any committee and suggested that the Parliament should discuss and resolve the matter.

“We had issued a press note last night stating that we won’t accept any committee formed by the Supreme Court for mediation,” he said, according to ANI. “We were confident that the Centre will get a committee formed through Supreme Court to take the burden off their shoulders.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the court put a stay on the implementation of the new farm laws until further orders and formed a committee to mediate between the two sides. Bharatiya Kisan Union President Bhupinder Singh Mann, former Director for South Asia at the International Food Policy Research Institute Pramod Joshi, agricultural economist Ashok Gulati and Maharashtra Shetkari Sangathna President Anil Ghanwat, were appointed as members of the committee.

The farmer unions have welcomed the court’s decision to put a hold on the implementation of the laws, however reiterating that they will not accept any other decision but the repeal of the legislations.

SC-appointed members back farm laws

Meanwhile, it has emerged that all four of the members appointed to the committee by the Supreme Court have supported the new agriculture laws in the past. Several social media users also pointed this out on Tuesday and shared articles and statements voiced by them.

Here are a few more details on the members of the panel:

  • Ashok Gulati: An agricultural economist, who was also a part of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council from 1999 to 2001, wrote an article in September, comparing the potential benefits of the new laws to the liberalisation of India’s economy in 1991. In another article in September, and in an interview in December, he suggested that the laws were beneficial for farmers, but the government lacked in their implementation.
  • Anil Ghanwat: The president of the Maharashtra-based farmers’ body Shetkari Sanghatan, had in December said the Centre should not repeal the farm laws, but introduce amendments, according to Hindu BusinessLine. “The government can stay implementation of the laws and amend them after discussions with farmers,” Ghanwat had said. “However, there is no need to withdraw these laws, which have opened up opportunities for farmers.” On Tuesday, Ghanwat reiterated his stand, while speaking to NDTV. He however said that the Centre did not discuss the laws enough with farmer bodies, before introducing them.
  • Pramod Joshi: In an article he co-authored in December, the agriculture economist wrote that the farmers were “changing goalposts before every negotiation” with the Centre and said that the new laws “provide alternative marketing opportunities”. He also termed the demand for repeal of laws as “bizarre” and asserted that non-farm organisations and intellectuals who were supporting the farmers should realise that the demands were unworthy of them.
  • Bhupinder Singh Mann: A former nominated member of the Rajya Sabha, Mann was part of a delegation under the banner of All India Kisan Coordination Committee that in December, handed over a memorandum to Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, demanding that the three laws be implemented, with some amendments, according to The Hindu.