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Reiterate their demand that minimum support prices be given legal guarantee

February 09, 2021 05:08 AM

COURTESY HT FEB 9

Andolan gave India freedom’: Farm unions slam PM speech
Reiterate their demand that minimum support prices be given legal guarantee

Farmers during the ongoing protest against the Centre’s new agriculture laws at the Ghazipur border in New Delhi on Monday. PTI
Karn Pratap Singh, Kainat Sarfaraz and Gurpreet Singh Nibber

htreporters@hindustantimes.com

New Delhi:/chandigarh : Protesters camped at the Capital’s borders against three new farm laws reiterated their demand that Minimum Support Prices (MSP) be legally guaranteed, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the Rajya Sabha sought to assure farmers that the procurement regime would continue to exist, and urged them to call off their agitation and continue discussions.

Responding to the debate on the motion of thanks on the President’s address in the Rajya Sabha, Modi on Monday also spoke of people he termed “aandolanjeevis” (those who live off protests) and warned against the alleged influence of FDI (“foreign destructive ideology”)

Farmer leaders condemned Modi’s statements, calling it an “insult of farmers”, and said they are ready for fresh talks, but with the condition that the “prime minister holds the meeting with the farmers”.

“Farmers of this country respect the Constitution, the elected government and the PM’s rank and dignity. If the PM wants the next round of talks, we are ready for it. But we urge the PM that he should hold the meeting with us, understand the concerns of the farmers, and end this deadlock. Multiple rounds of meetings with the Union agriculture minister have yielded no results so far,” said Satnam Singh Sahni, general secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Doaba group), at the Singhu border.

Speaking in Rajya Sabha, Modi said the farm laws should be given a chance, while reiterating that MSP will continue and doubling down on the government’s commitment to modernise agricultural markets. “MSP was there. MSP is there. MSP will remain in the future,” the PM said.

Protesters and prominent farm leaders were unmoved by the assurances and demanded that the government ensure legal provisions to “protect farmers from businesspersons.”

BKU (Tikait) faction national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait said, “There are no laws now, so businesspersons loot farmers. Authorities have tried to taint the movement by various means. The movement is not led by politicians, but farmers who demand the repeal of laws. There will be no business over hunger, and this is what we are fighting against,” said Tikait, who is leading the agitation at Ghazipur border.

A farmer from Punjab’s Moga Sadhu Singh said, “Nobody knowingly consumes poison. When we know that the new farm laws are poisonous, why is Modi ji asking us to consume it. We (farmers) know what is good for us and we are fighting for our rights. We will leave only when the laws are repealed”

On Monday evening, Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella body of the 40 farmers’ unions, issued a press statement, condemning the Prime Minister’s “aandolanjeevi” remark.

“We condemn the insulting of farmers by prime minister. Farmers would like to remind the PM that it is andolans that have liberated India from colonial rulers, which is why we are proud to be aandolanjeevi,” the statement read.

“The PM’s FDI approach is dangerous too, even as we distance ourselves from any Foreign Destructive Ideology,” the statement continued.

‘It’s an insult to farmers’

Darhan Pal, president of the Krantikari Kisan Morcha, a key constituent of the morcha, said the PM’s speech in the Rajya Sabha was an insult to farmers.

He said the protesting farmers would like to return to their homes if the government accepted their legitimate demands. “But it (government) is adamant on its stance due to which the protests are expanding across the country,” he said.

Jagmohan Singh, general secretary of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Dakounda), pointed out that the Centre’s hollow statements on minimum support price (MSP) will not benefit the farmers. “The farmers will benefit only if MSP is made a legal guarantee for all crops,” said.

“Our morcha stands with the democratic processes,” said Pal, questioning the government’s commitment to resolving the standoff.

The morcha leaders said the government is introducing the Electricity Amendment Bill, 2021, despite assuring farmer organisations of withdrawing the draft bill.

The large turnout at the kisan mahapanchayats in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh has strengthened the protests.

Also, BKU (Charnui) Haryana chief Gurnam Singh Charuni said the farmers wanted repeal of the legislations besides a law backing MSP and not hollow statements from the PM.

“We will not go back till 2024 if our demands are not met. We will intensify our agitation in other parts of the state,” he added.

Extra cops deployed at borders withdrawn

The additional deployment of Delhi Police personnel at the three borders points of Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur, where farmers are camping for over two months to protest against the three farm laws,was withdrawn from Monday evening. The security arrangements in these places will now be taken care of by personnel belonging to the police districts concerned, senior police officers privy to the development said.

 

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