Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 12
Thirty farmer unions today decided to attend the meeting with the Centre on Friday but in the same breath demanded that the three agriculture laws be revoked.
The main agenda of the meeting with Union Agriculture Minister NS Tomar and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal will be to end the “economic blockade” of Punjab by restarting the rail services. “This will be a primary meeting… we don’t think that much will come out of one meeting,” Harmeet Singh Qadian, president, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Qadian).
Speaking on behalf of the unions that are jointly protesting against the farm laws, Qadian said the very fact that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had withdrawn from the meeting and that the Centre (using the Delhi Police) had denied farmers permission to hold a protest in Delhi on November 26-27, showed the Centre’s intent.
Rajinder Singh Deepsinghwala of Krantikari Kisan Union said it had been decided that thousands of farmers from Punjab would now move to gherao Delhi in tractors on November 26-27.
“We will light mashal (torches) on Diwali, as a sign of our sangharsh (protest),” he said, adding that the festival of lights would be celebrated, rejecting the call to observe “black Diwali”.
Farmer leaders also demanded the state government immediately release the long-pending dues of cane growers. “The neighbouring state of Haryana has increased the state advised price (SAP) of cane to Rs 350 per quintal, while the cane price has remained static in Punjab in the past three years. We demand that we be given a similar raise. The state government, too, is ignoring the farmers,” said Qadian.
The representatives of farmer unions will also be demanding from the Centre that taxes on diesel be reduced, in the wake of a drop in prices of crude oil to benefit the farming community.
State representative to attend the meeting
On the insistence of the Central Government, the Punjab Government is sending Agriculture Commissioner BS Sidhu as its representative to take part in the meeting.