July 24, 2024

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Police guard the Shambhu border in Patiala ahead of the farmers march to Delhi

New Delhi:

Farmers leaders who met Union ministers in Chandigarh for six hours alleged the government was not sincere about the talks, even as tractor-trolleys set out from different parts of Punjab to go to Delhi. In the national capital, massive deployment of police and paramilitary personnel, besides multi-layered barricading have been made to seal the city at Singhu, Tikri, and Ghazipur.

“The talks did not lead to any result. We will start our march to Delhi at 10 am. We will, however, discuss the proposals given by the government in our forum. The government is clearly at fault here,” a farmer leader told reporters after the meeting ended.

They discussed repealing the Electricity Act, 2020, and compensation for farmers who were killed in the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri. An agreement was reached between the government and the farmer groups to withdraw the cases filed against them during the year-long protest against the now-scrapped controversial farm laws.

However, the meeting ended before both sides could work out a solution to the demand for minimum support price (MSP) guarantee law, farm loan waiver, and implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations.

In the national capital, massive deployment of police and paramilitary personnel, besides multi-layered barricading have been made to seal the city at Singhu, Tikri, and Ghazipur.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha have announced that more than 200 farmer unions would head to Delhi to press the Centre to accept their demands, including the enactment of a law to guarantee a minimum support price (MSP) for crops.

The Union ministers, including Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal and Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda, held the second round of talks with the farmer leaders at the Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration in Chandigarh.

During press conference, Arjun Munda said that issues can be resolved through dialogue. “We are still hopeful and we welcome talks,” he said.

SKM (Non-Political) leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal and Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee general secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher, among others, attended the meeting that went on for over four hours.

The first meeting with the Union ministers was held on February 8, in which detailed discussions with the leaders of farmer organisations took place.

On Monday, tractor-trolleys in large numbers set out from different parts of Punjab to join the planned farmers’ march towards Delhi. The farmer leaders who later participated in the talks in Chandigarh held a meeting in Amb Sahib in Punjab’s Mohali before leaving for the city.

The authorities in Haryana have fortified the state’s borders with Punjab at many places in Ambala, Jind, Fatehabad, Kurukshetra, and Sirsa using concrete blocks, iron nails, and barbed wire to scuttle the proposed march.

The Haryana government has imposed restrictions on gathering of large groups of people in 15 districts.

Besides a legal guarantee for MSP, the farmers are also demanding implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, pensions for farmers and farm labourers, farm debt waiver, withdrawal of police cases and “justice” for victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, withdrawal from the World Trade Organisation, and compensation for families of farmers who died during the previous 2020 agitation, among others.

Traffic restrictions have been put in place and security arrangements intensified at the Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri borders in Delhi. The police are using drones to keep an eye on the ground situation, and are fully prepared to deal with any law and order situation, they said.

Motorists had a hard time commuting between Delhi and town in the National Capital Region (NCR) on Monday. The Haryana Police and the Chandigarh Police have already issued traffic advisories, asking commuters to take alternative routes.

Ahead of the meeting with Union ministers, farmers’ leader Dallewal alleged many agriculturists, who were coming from other states, including Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, to support the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march, have been detained, and sought their release.

Dallewal claimed that several farmers coming from Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, owing allegiance to the SKM, have been detained in Bhopal.

“On one side, they (the Centre) are holding dialogues with us and on the other hand they are detaining our people. Then how will this dialogue take place?” the SKM (Non-Political) leader said.

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