Stop dilly-dallying, farmer leaders tell govt amidst round four of talks

A farmer leader said the Centre should accept farmers' demands before the model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha polls comes into force

A Bhartiya Kisan Union rally (photo: Chaudhary Rakesh Tikait/Facebook)
A Bhartiya Kisan Union rally (photo: Chaudhary Rakesh Tikait/Facebook)


As a panel of Union ministers held the fourth round of talks with farmer leaders in Chandigarh on Sunday over their demands, including a legal guarantee of MSP (minimum support price), thousands of protesting farmers stayed put at the Punjab-Haryana border.

The farmers from Punjab have been camping at Shambhu and Khanauri points on the border since 13 February, when their 'Delhi Chalo' march was halted by police. The call for the march was given by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha.

Balbir Singh Rajewal, a leader of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of various farmer unions, said they will stage protests in front of the residences of Punjab BJP leaders, including MPs, MLAs and district presidents, from Tuesday to Thursday.

Interacting with reporters after a meeting of SKM leaders in Ludhiana, Rajewal said it has also been decided that they would protest at all toll barriers in the state and make them free for all commuters from 20 to 22 February.

The SKM will not accept anything less than the C-2 plus 50 per cent formula for MSP as recommended in the Swaminathan Commission report, he said after the meeting which was also attended by farmer leaders Balkaran Singh Brar and Boota Singh, among others.

Earlier, farmer leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal said the Central government should not "dilly-dally" and accept farmers' demands before the model code of conduct (MCC) for the Lok Sabha elections comes into force.

"We want to tell the government that it should avoid the policy of dilly-dallying," Dallewal told reporters at the Shambhu border point. If the government thinks it will continue to hold meetings until the MCC is imposed and then say it cannot do anything as the code is in force... the farmers are not going to return, he said. "The government should find a solution to our demands before the MCC comes into force," he added.

The farmers' agitation, Dallewal clarified, has not been sponsored by any political party.

In Haryana's Kurukshetra, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Charuni) chief Gurnam Singh Charuni and some khaps took part in a panchayat to chalk out a course of action to support the protesting farmers from Punjab. Charuni told reporters after the meeting that it was decided to unite all farmer organisations to hold a protest in support of the agitation.

Several other decisions have been put on hold for the time being owing to the scheduled talks. The decisions will be announced once the outcome of the talks is known, he added. Charuni said a good chunk of the rural belt is part of the National Capital Region (NCR) and a four-member committee has been formed to connect with farmers from Delhi.

He said it is surprising that the government is not allowing the farmers to travel to Delhi on their tractors. It is a farmer's vehicle and they need to carry eatables and ration for the agitation on their tractors, he said.

Khap leader O.P. Dhankar said Haryana khaps are behind the agitation and the Central government should not delay giving a legal guarantee of MSP. Another khap leader who attended the panchayat said farmers will reach Delhi and protest if the talks fail.

The Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) continued to hold protests at toll plazas in Punjab for the second consecutive day, forcing authorities not to charge toll tax. At the Ladhowal plaza in Ludhiana, farmers shouted slogans against the Centre and the Haryana government.

Besides a legal guarantee of MSP, farmers are demanding implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations, pension for farmers and farm labourers, farm debt waivers, no hike in electricity tariff, withdrawal of police cases, "justice" for the victims of the 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, and compensation to the families of farmers who died during the previous agitation in 2020-21.

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