Farmers protest: Third round of talks ends on 'positive' note; next meeting on Feb 18

The previous two rounds of dialogue -- on 8 and 12 February -- remained inconclusive

Screen grab of the meeting between the Central government and farmer leaders from @Gagan4344/X
Screen grab of the meeting between the Central government and farmer leaders from @Gagan4344/X

NH Political Bureau

The third round of talks between the Central government and farmer leaders ended on early Friday on a "positive" note, claimed Union Agriculture minister Arjun Munda. The farmer union leaders called the meeting "fruitful".

It has been decided that the next meeting will take place on Sunday, 18 February, at 6 p.m.

"We all will find a solution peacefully," Munda said after the talks that lasted for nearly five hours.

The third round of talks between farmer leaders and Union ministers -- Munda, Piyush Goyal and Nityanand Rai -- started after a delay of three hours on Thursday evening.

The farmer leaders who took part in the meeting included Jagjit Singh Dallewal, Sarwan Singh Pandher and Jarnail Singh.

During the meeting, sources said, farmers raised concerns over the excessive use of tear gas shells, the closure of social media accounts, and the shutdown of internet services.

Farmer leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal has shown empty shells to the ministers.

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, who was also present in the meeting, said that the talks were held in a "cordial atmosphere" and he is hopeful of finding a solution to end the deadlock.

"Positive discussions held on 13-14 demands... I requested the Centre to direct the Haryana government to maintain peace in (interstate) border areas," Mann said.

The previous two rounds of dialogue -- on February 8 and 12 -- remained inconclusive.

The farmers continued their protest on interstate borders between Punjab and Haryana, demanding higher minimum crop prices and waiver of loans, among other demands.

Meanwhile, expressing solidarity with the protesting farmers, the employees of state-owned Punjab Roadways, PUNBUS and private public transport bus operators in Punjab on Friday, 16 February went on strike, leaving many commuters stranded as over 5,000 buses stayed off the roads.

The impact of the shutdown, named ‘Bharat Bandh’, from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. was also seen in neighbouring Haryana as shops and commercial establishments stayed closed.

Petroleum dealers in Punjab closed filling stations to back the call for the shutdown.

The activists of several farmer associations were seen asking traders at several places in Punjab to keep their shops and business establishments closed to mark the protest.

Farmer leaders said they would block key roads and occupy toll plazas during the shutdown.

Reports of total shutdown of shops and other establishments were received from Patiala, Ludhiana, Bathinda, Moga, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar and other places.

Sufficient security arrangements were made in both the states to prevent any untoward incident, said a senior police official.

With inputs from IANS

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Published: 16 Feb 2024, 10:41 AM
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