Farmers protesting against the three new agriculture laws have warned the Centre not to “test their patience” and to instead initiate dialogue and accept their demands, PTI reported. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of the farmers’ unions, made the comment in a statement released on Wednesday after spells of rain caused damage to their protest sites at the borders of national Capital Delhi.
“It has been a chaotic situation with regard to food and accommodation, due to the rain,” the statement noted. “Roads and several parts of the protest sites have been filled up with rainwater. For six months now, in all such circumstances, in the absence of any government facilities and support, the protesting farmers themselves are handling such situations.”
Thousands of farmers have camped outside Delhi since November, demanding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeal the three laws that open up the country’s agriculture markets to private companies. Farmers fear the policies will make them vulnerable to corporate exploitation and would dismantle the minimum support price regime.
The farmers’ body said that more than 470 protesters have lost their lives since the movement started, adding that the central government should take responsibility for the same as it takes credit for increase in agricultural produce and exports.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha statement also called upon the Centre to resume dialogue with the protesting farmers. “If the government cares about its farmers and wants their welfare, then it should initiate dialogue with the farmers and accept their demands,” the statement said.
The Centre and farmers held 11 rounds of talks earlier this year, but could not reach a resolution as the government did not agree to the demand of scrapping the laws altogether.
In January, the government had offered to suspend the farm laws for 12-18 months, which was rejected by the farmer unions. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of the laws till further orders and set up a committee to resolve the impasse.
The farmers have, meanwhile, hunkered down with supplies that they say will last them for months, and have resolved to not leave until their demands are met. The movement poses one of the biggest challenges to Modi since he took power in 2014, as he faces criticism from all sides, including from some allies of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Shiromani Akali Dal of Punjab quit the ruling National Democratic Alliance at the Centre in September itself.
Another sign of impact was the Congress’ spectacular performance in the Punjab urban body polls held in February.