7th round of talks fails. Here’s what farmers plan next

Farmers to decide whether to attend next round of talks with Centre, proposed on January 8; say will intensify protests through tractor rallies, sit-ins, hunger strikes between 6 and January 26 as per plan

More farmers are trying to reach the borders of Delhi where thousands others are protesting against the farm laws since November 2020. Photo: PTI

After the seventh round of talks between farmers and the central government on Monday (January 4) failed to break the deadlock with both sides drawing a hard line, the government has proposed another discussion on January 8. Farmers’ unions protesting near Delhi will meet on Wednesday to decide if they will attend the meeting.

At Monday’s talks, while the farmer representatives stuck to their initial demand to repeal the three farm laws, the government said it can’t be done.

Jagjit Singh Dallewal of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) Sidhupur told The Federal that the unions are clear that the government must repeal the laws.

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“We will not settle for anything less than removing the laws. If the government doesn’t do that, the next meeting too will be indecisive. So we will take the decision of attending the next meeting after having a discussion with all the unions. The government is ready to bring in law for the minimum support price (MSP), but we wanted to discuss the repeal of three laws first,” he added.

Before the seventh round of talks, the farmers’ unions had threatened to intensify protests in form of countrywide tractor rallies, hunger strikes, sit-ins outside governor houses and burning of the farm bills, if their demands were not met.

After the meeting, Manjit Singh Dhaner, vice president of BKU Dakaunda told The Federal that the programmes announced from January 6 to January 26 will continue without any changes. “We will continue intensifying the protest,” he said.

On Sunday, Punjab’s farm unions had announced that they would burn copies of the three contentious farm laws on Lohri (January 13) and celebrate January 23, the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, as ‘Azad Kisan Diwas’.

“We have decided to hold a tractor march on the highways from January 6. We have also decided that from January 6 to 20, we will hold demonstrations, hunger strikes, rallies and street shows across the country,” said Dr Darshan Pal, president of Krantikari Kisan Union, Punjab.

He said the farmers will celebrate Lohri on January 13 by burning the farm bills.

“January 18 will be celebrated as farmers’ day and on that day the women farmers will come forward and hold strikes. On the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose on January 23, we will conduct ‘Azad Kisan Diwas’ in which we protest in front of the governor’s house in every state,” Pal said.

“On January 26, more farmers will come to Delhi from all over the country with their tractors and we will hold a parallel tractor parade in the national capital and all over the country as well,” Pal said.

However, the leaders maintained that the protests will be peaceful.

“We have made a team of 4,000 volunteers who will ensure that peace is maintained during the protest. We are getting support from everywhere only because the protest is peaceful and it will remain peaceful,” said Jagjit Singh Dallewal.

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While addressing a press conference on the New Year as well, farmers’ leaders warned of multiple actions if their main demands are not met. They said that only five per cent of the issues raised by them have so far been discussed in meetings with the government.

“If the January 4 meeting with the government fails to end the deadlock, we will announce dates for shutting all malls, petrol pumps in Haryana,” farmer leader Vikas was quoted as saying by PTI. Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav said farmers protesting at Shahjahanpur on the Haryana-Rajasthan border will also move towards the national capital if the government fails to accept the demands.