Dissatisfied with the ongoing talks with the central government, the farmer unions protesting against the three farm bills have decided to step up the protests, calling for an effigy burning of PM Modi on December 5, the return of awards on December 7 and a Bharat Bandh on December 8.
Speaking to the media, the farmers stated that they have also planned to block the remaining open roads leading to Delhi and threatened to intensify the protests should the government refuses to accept their demands. The farmers have already blocked several roads.
“On December 5, effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be burnt across the country,” said Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU-Lakhowal) General Secretary, HS Lakhowal, speaking to the media at Singhu border. “We have given a call for Bharat Bandh on December 8,” he said. “We have planned to block all roads leading to Delhi in the coming days if new farm laws are not scrapped,” “We have planned to block all roads leading to Delhi in the coming days if new farm laws are not scrapped,” said Lakhwal added.
The flurry of measures was taken by 51 representatives of the farmer unions, in a marathon meeting held at the Singhu border to discuss the proceedings of the meetings with the ministerial delegation on Thursday and finalise their next course of action.
Earlier, a meeting with the central government representatives failed to end the deadlock over the new farm laws as the protesters dug their heels in, refusing to budge on their demands. With the government refusing to cave into the farmers’ demand, the union decided to intensify their protests and increase the pressure on the government.
“Yesterday, we told the Government (at the meeting) that the farm laws should be withdrawn. We have given a call for Bharat Bandh on 8 December,” said Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU-Lakhowal) General Secretary, Harvinder Singh Lakhowal at Singhu Border after a meeting.
Farmers’ hardened their stance on the revocation of farm bills, demand constitutional guarantee on MSP
Though the farmers’ union have agreed to go in for the next level of talks with the central government on Saturday, they claimed that they would initiate dialogue only when the Centre promises them of repealing the three farm laws and passing constitutional legislation to guarantee MSP on crops.
The farmers’ union, in an attempt to nationalise the protests which have largely been restricted to Punjab and Delhi border, has urged farmers across the country to emulate the “Punjab model” of protests by swarming all toll plazas in the country run by the corporates and stop them from collecting toll tax from commuters, they said.
On the other hand, the central government, under the leadership of Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, have assured that the agitating farmers’ valid concerns will be discussed and considered with an unprejudiced mind. However, the other side remained stuck to their demand for the annulment of the three farm laws, claiming that there were several shortcomings and deficiencies in the bills.
Some of the major points of concerns among farmers are the three new laws, including on strengthening of the APMC (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee) mandi system, tax parity with proposed private mandis and freedom for farmers to approach higher courts for any dispute resolution.
Farmers add other demands
If the existing demands around the three farm laws and the MSP were not enough, the farmer unions have now added several other demands to their wish list. The unions have demanded that amendments be made to the Electricity Act should be withdrawn. They also want that the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance 2020 should be withdrawn. This ordinance introduces penal provisions for violation of norms mandated to reduce pollution. The commission can slap a penalty of Rs 1 crore and/or five-year jail term to those flouting air pollution norms. The farmers fear that they will be prosecuted by the Commission for burning stubble, which is a major source of pollution in and around Delhi.
Most surprisingly, the farmers have also added a demand to withdraw all cases against farmer leaders, intellectuals, poets, lawyers, writers, human rights activists etc. But this is not surprising, given that the protests have been already hijacked by the left-liebral activists.