'Yes or No', farmers continue to corner govt without compromise

After the fifth round of meeting between the government and the protesting farmers, on Saturday, the Central Government has still not agreed to repeal the farm reforms, which is the key demand of the farmers.

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After the fifth round of meeting between the government and the protesting farmers, on Saturday, the Central Government has still not agreed to repeal the farm reforms, which is the key demand of the farmers. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Railways, Commerce and Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, who is an MP from Punjab, held talks with the representatives of 40 farmers' unions at the Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi.

Following what the farmer leaders believed to be “meaningless talks” with the government, they had threatened to walk out of the meeting earlier today. Instead, the farmers held placards during the meeting which said “Yes or No. No charcha” to compel the government into explicitly denying or accepting the repealing of the farm reforms.

According to News18, a farmer was even quoted saying during the meeting, “Repeal the bill or shoot us. Now we all are silent and will not utter any more words because the government is repeating the same thing. No further dialogue from our side. Government wants discussion. But we want rollback.” The farmers further said that they didn’t want corporate farming, and that the government would benefit from this law and not the farmers.

Though the government has not yet agreed to repeal the bills, they have agreed to all demands for amendments in the bills without any conditions. It has also stated that the stubble burning ordinance and Electricity amendment ordinance will be taken back. But the farmers’ unions have refused to settle with these agreements and have demanded a complete rollback of the bills.

Speaking to the farmers' leaders present in the meeting over farm laws, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar was quoted saying by ANI, “I appeal to all of you to kindly ask senior citizens and children, at the protest site, to go home.” This only made the farmer leaders respond with determination saying, “We have material with us to last a year. We have been on the road for the past several days. If the government wants us to stay on the road, we have no problem. We won't take the path of violence. Intelligence Bureau will inform you what we are doing at protest site.” Just like the previous meeting that was held on December 3, the farmers had brought their own food to the meeting as a sign of protest.

The government has offered to meet the farmers again the day after tomorrow for another round of meeting, however, there is no certain response from the protesting farmers yet.



Several other protests were held against the farmers' bills across the country today to show solidarity to the farmers' groups and to burn the effigies of corporates and Modi. The list of places comprised Amritsar, Chandigarh, Hoshiyarpur, Patiala, Kolkata, Naihati, Chennai and Mumbai. A large group of farmers, who were making their way to Delhi from Bilaspur and Uttarakhand to join the protesting farmers, were detained by police on the Yamuna Expressway while they were attempting to break the barricades in order to come towards Delhi. Actor Diljit Dosanjh also visited the farmers protesting at the Singhu border today, and donated Rs 1 crore to buy winter wear for the farmers protesting in Delhi’s chilly winter.

With the farmers' dissent against the three bills gaining international recognition, protests against the farm laws and support rallies for the farmers were held at Edmonton, Hamilton, Surrey and Toronto in Canada too besides the protest rallies at New Jersey and California in the USA today. Multiple cars and motorcycle rallies will also be held at Alberta and British Columbia in Canada, and Seattle and Houston in the USA tomorrow.

Moreover, according to BCC, a group of 36 cross-party parliamentarians have written to UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab asking him to make representations with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar about the impact on British Punjabis affected by the demonstrations by farmers against new agricultural reforms in India. They have sought ministerial intervention in the farmers' protests in India as the issue is of particular concern to Sikhs in the UK and those linked to Punjab. Many British Sikhs and Punjabis have taken this matter up with their MPs, as they are directly affected by family members and ancestral land in Punjab, the letter reads.

Protests against the three farm reform laws have been ongoing since September, amidst which the Central Government had also stopped railways going to Punjab. Demonstrations began a few days ago when thousands of farmers from northern states of Punjab and Haryana set out towards New Delhi to protest against these bills. The government tried to suppress the protests with force, as they employed water cannons and teargas shells, erected barricades and barbed wire fences, dug trenches on highways, and arrested hundreds of activists. Braving it all,  tens of thousands of farmers have amassed on the Delhi border and have laid siege to the capital.