Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, October 13
Farmers’ unions in Punjab have decided they would attend a meeting with the central government on Wednesday.
Thirty farmers union that have been leading protests in the state against controversial agriculture laws passed by Parliament last month met on Tuesday to discuss their course of action.
Even as they agreed to the meeting, the organisations said their protests would continue until October 15. They were also undecided about continuing their ‘Rail Roko’ protests. The decision to meet the central government comes after a delegation from Punjab Government led by Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa met the protesters on Tuesday.
Parliament passed three laws—The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020—in the monsoon session held last month.
The laws replaced three ordinances similarly named that the Cabinet had approved of in June.
Farmers and civil rights organisations have been holding protests against the three laws since last month. Of particular concern was The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, which they see as a step to dismantle the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) system.
Farmers see this measure as a process to do away with the minimum support price (MSP), a policy under which farmers are assured a minimum return for their produce regardless of the market fluctuations. Critics say that while the APMC system could do with reforms, the three laws could weaken the system and leave farmers open to exploitation.
As protests against the laws escalated, the central government invited them for a meeting to discuss their objections to the laws.