Will not let any vehicle enter Delhi, say farmers as talks fail

Farmers said 'lakhs of additional farmers' will join the four lakh already at the Delhi border areas. They will block Delhi from all side and will not allow any vehicle to enter or exit Delhi, they said

Farmer Union leaders haven’t stepped out of meeting hall for lunch. Ministers have stepped out of hall for lunch. Union leaders have written placards “Ya marangey ya jitagey” and “Kanoon Wapis toh Hum ghar Wapis”. Friction & Tension continues in the hall.

The eighth round of talks between the government and 41 representatives of farmers’ unions protesting against the farm laws again ended in a deadlock on Friday (January 8). There could be another round of talks on January 15 after the hearing by the Supreme Court on January 11 on petitions against the laws.

The two sides refused to relent from their earlier stance, with the farmers saying only the repealing of the laws will pacify them, and the government saying that is out of question. The meeting was held at the Vigyan Bhawan in the heart of the national capital.

The farmer leaders told the government that their ghar wapsi from the protest sites at Delhi’s borders can happen only after law wapsi, but the Centre insisted talks must be limited to contentious clauses and ruled out a complete withdrawal of the laws.

“In today’s (Friday’s) meeting, the Union agricultural minister (Narendra Singh Tomar) told us that the farm laws cannot be removed. We also said we will not budge till the laws are repealed. The talks were inconclusive and both the parties didn’t even talk much in the meeting. We will decide tomorrow (Saturday) if we should attend the next meeting on January 15,” Manjit Singh Dhaner of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) Dakaunda told The Federal. He said the government was just wasting time and playing with the emotions of the farmers.
Another farmer leader from Majha Kisan Committee, which is led by Balwinder Singh Aulakh, told The Federal that the protest will be intensified. “We will block Delhi from all the sides. Four lakh farmers are already at the borders. Lakhs more are coming. Not even a single vehicle will be allowed to enter or exit Delhi. We will block all the highways.”
Farmer leaders said that the ministers — Tomar; railways, commerce and food minister Piyush Goyal; and minister of state for commerce Som Parkash, an MP from Punjab —
asked them to go to the Supreme Court against the laws. “The ministers told us if we want to get the farm laws repealed, then we should challenge them in the SC,” Parminder Singh Pal Majra from BKU said. “We will not go to the SC. Our fight is with the government directly. The government has already gone to the SC against us, but we will not go,” he said.
In its hearing on January 11,  the Supreme Court is likely to consider if the laws have legal validity.
The farmers said they will not leave the protest site even if the Supreme Court asks them to vacate the spots. “We will not go from here till the laws are repealed. Even if the SC directs us to go back, we will stay here. We will either die here or go back after getting the bills scrapped,” Majra said.
Sukhpal Singh Daffar,  president of Ganna Sangharsh Committee, said that in the meeting the agricultural minister told them the laws cannot bee repealed just because two states —  Punjab and Haryana — are demanding them. “The government thinks that farmers from many states are in support of these bills. But, farmers from all the states are here and everyone is against the farm laws,” he said.
“Let the police come, let the army come, we will take bullets on our chests but we will not go. We will die here if the laws are not taken back. We don’t care about Covid, cold or bird flu,” farmers’ leader Abhimanyu Kohar said.

At the eighth round of negotiations, the government ruled out repealing the laws asserting that the reforms have been welcomed by a large section of farmers in various states and asked the unions to think about the interests of the entire country.

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Also read: Consensus on two of 4 major demands, says Centre after talks with farmers

But the farmers reiterated that the laws should be scrapped. “Our ghar wapsi (return to home) can happen only if you do law wapsi (repeal of laws),” a farmer leader said at the meeting. “Ideally, the Centre should not interfere in agriculture matters as various Supreme Court orders have declared farming as a state subject. It seems you (the government) do not want to resolve the issue as talks have been happening for so many days. In that case, please give us a clear answer and we will go. Why waste everyone’s time?” another farmer leader said at the meeting.

Around one hour after the meeting, the three ministers stepped out of the discussion hall for their own internal consultations, after union leaders decided to observe silence while holding out papers with slogans, including jeetenge ya marenge (We will either win or die).

Just before the meeting, All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) member Kavitha Kuruganti had said: “If no solution is arrived at in today’s (Friday’s) meeting, we will continue with our plan of tractor rally on January 26.”

Also read: At Delhi borders, farmers bang utensils to boycott PM’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’

The agitating farmers took out tractor rallies on Thursday (January 7) to press their demand for a rollback of the laws, while the Centre asserted that it was ready to consider any proposal other than a repeal of the legislations.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now against the three laws, despite the cold weather and heavy rains.

(With agency inputs)

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