Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Sunday (December 13) accused Opposition parties of running a propaganda against the new farm laws and asserted that these legislations “may cause difficulty for some in the short term” but will be beneficial to farmers in the long run.
Tomar, who is leading negotiations with the 40 protesting farmer unions to break the deadlock, was addressing a delegation of over 100 farmers from Uttarakhand who came to extend their support to the laws.
Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary and Uttarakhand Education Minister Arvind Pandey were present in the meeting.
Addressing the delegation, Tomar said the government faced opposition when it revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. It also faced opposition when it brought the amended citizenship law as well as over the Ram temple issue.
“When the agricultural reforms were brought, there was opposition to this too…. There are some people who just oppose and weaken the country. This has become their nature,” the agriculture minister said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said he will observe a day-long fast on Monday (December 14) in solidarity with farmers protesting against the Centre’s agricultural laws and urged Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) workers to join him.
“I will hold a one-day fast tomorrow in support of farmers’ support. I appeal to AAP volunteers to join in. Centre should immediately accept all demands of farmers protesting the laws and bring a bill to guarantee MSP,” Kejriwal was quoted as saying at a virtual press conference.
“Thousands of people support the farmers in their struggle. I appeal to everyone to fast for one day to show their solidarity. These new laws are harmful for the country. They decriminalise profiteering and hoarding. They will help prices go up,” he said.
The Delhi-Jaipur highway has been partially opened, hours after it was blocked from both sides by police, due to a tractor march by farmers from Shahjahanpur to Delhi.
Another highway was opened after farmers removed the blockade from Chila border.
The farmers from Shahjahanpur are headed to the national capital to join the protesters who have been camping at the outskirts of the Delhi for the past 18 days, demanding a repeal of the Centre’s farm laws.
The farmers have called a nationwide protest on Monday in support of their demands.
Union ministers including Home Minister Amit Shah, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Som Parkash met to discuss reportedly the government’s further course of action ahead of the farmers’ strike on Monday.
The farmer leaders have said that major highways linking the capital will be blocked from Sunday. The protesters are scheduled to begin their rally towards Delhi on their tractors at 11 am. Hundreds of security personnel stand deployed at border points in response to the farmers’ call for blocking highways.
Union minister warns ‘Tukde Tukde Gang’
Meanwhile, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Sunday said stern action will be taken against nation breakers “Tukde Tukde Gang” trying to take advantage of farmers’ protest.
“They (those protesting farm laws) are saying that they will not withdraw their movement unless and until these laws are withdrawn. We would like to say that Narendra Modi government respects farmers but would like to make it clear that stern action will be taken against ‘tukde tukde gang’ taking advantage of farmers movement,” Prasad said while launching “Kisan Chaupal Sammelan” (farmers conference) in support of farm laws, at Tekbigha village in Bakhtiarpur Assembly constituency of Patna district.
Also on Sunday, Punjab Deputy Inspector General (Prisons) Lakhminder Singh Jakhar said he has resigned from the service in support of farmers. He said he tendered his resignation to the state government on Saturday.
In his resignation letter to Principal Secretary (Home), “I, Lakhminder Singh Jakhar, DIG, Prisons, would like to inform you of my considered and introspective decision to stand with my farmer brothers who are peacefully protesting against the Farm Ordinances, 2020 which are detrimental to interest of farmers and their future generations.”
Here are the latest developments from the protest site:
- The protesting farmers have claimed that thousands more from Punjab and Harayana will join them as they plan to intensify their agitation. They have said their “mothers, sisters and daughters will also join them soon”, and that arrangements for their stay are being made at the protest sites.
- On Sunday, thousands of farmers will begin their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march with their tractors from Rajasthan’s Shahjahanpur through Jaipur-Delhi Highway at 11 AM, said farmer leader Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu. Shahjahanpur and Delhi-Gurgaon border are 94 kms apart.
- On Saturday, agitating farmers picketed highway toll plazas in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The roads functioned by and large normally though the protesters did block some stretches briefly and did not allow the collection of toll at many places.
- In Punjab, toll charges are not being collected from commuters as farmers have been staging sit-ins at toll plazas since October 1. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is suffering a loss of ₹3 crore per day on account of farmers’ protest at toll plazas in the state.
- On Monday, the farmer union leaders will sit on a hunger strike between 8 AM and 5 PM at Singhu Border during the nationwide protest called by them, said a farmer leader.
- Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala met the Centre’s Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar in Delhi and said that he is hopeful that the next round of talks between the Centre and the farmer unions will take place in the next 24-40 hours.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, meanwhile, on Saturday assured the farmers that his government was committed to their welfare and the new laws were aimed at giving them alternative markets to boost income. “After implementation of recent reforms, farmers will get new markets and new opportunities,” he said.
- Union Minister Piyush Goyal, meanwhile, said there was an attempt to derail agriculture reforms by Leftists and Maoist elements. “We now realise that the so-called farmer agitation hardly remains a farmers’ agitation. It has almost been infiltrated by Leftist and Maoist elements,” said Goyal.
- The farmers and the Centre have held five rounds of talks so far. Union Minister Som Prakash, who is negotiating with protesting farmers, said efforts are being made to call an early meeting with farmer leaders. Both sides have said they are open to talks after the December 9 meeting was cancelled.
- The farmers had earlier rejected a government offer to amend the farm laws and give a “written assurance” on continuing the MSP system. While sticking to the demand for repealing the three laws, the farmer leaders have also accused the government of trying to divide them.
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