Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Wednesday said the Centre was ready to resume talks with farmer unions on the three new agriculture laws but only if they respond to the government’s offer to put the legislation on hold for 18 months, PTI reported. Tomar said that the differences between the Centre and farmer bodies can be resolved through a joint committee.

The minister was briefing the media at an event to mark the completion of two years of the Centre’s flagship PM-KISAN scheme, under which eligible farmers are provided cash support of Rs 6,000 annually. Responding to a query on farmer leader Rakesh Tikait’s announcement of a march of 40 lakh tractors to the Parliament, Tomar said that the Centre was sensitive towards the farmers’ demands, PTI reported.

“The government of India has always held discussions with farmers with a lot of sensitivity,” he said. “Even today, whenever their response comes, the government is always ready to hold talks.”

The talks between farmers and the Centre have been in the state of stalemate since the eleventh round of meeting on January 22. In that meeting, the Centre had asked the farmer bodies to consider its proposal on the temporary suspension of the implementation of the farm laws. Prior to that, on January 20, the farmers rejected the Centre’s proposal to suspend implementation of the three agricultural laws for 1.5 years, and stuck to their demand of repealing the laws.

Farmer unions write to President Kovind

Meanwhile, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farmer unions wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday, which they observed as “Daman Virodhi Divas (Anti-Repression Day)”.

In the letter, the farmers’ body demanded that the protestors who have been jailed should be released immediately and cases against them and those sympathetic towards the agitation should be withdrawn. They also demanded that the central agencies stop sending notices to the protestors and that the Delhi Police withdraw barricades erected at the borders of the Capital.

In a separate press note, the farmers’ body welcomed the bail granted to climate activist Disha Ravi on Tuesday and condemned the police action against supporters of the protest.