Sonepat/New Delhi, December 12
Sticking to their demands, farmer leaders Saturday said they are ready to hold talks with the government, but will first discuss repealing the three new farm laws, and announced further intensification of their ongoing protest against the legislations.
Addressing a press conference at Singhu Border here, farmer leader Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu said thousands of farmers will start their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march from Rajasthan’s Shahjahanpur through the Jaipur-Delhi Highway at 11 am on Sunday.
He said farmers from other parts of the country are also on their way to join the protesters here and they will take the agitation to the next level in the coming days.
“If the government wants to hold talks, we are ready, but our main demand will remain the scrapping of the three laws. We will move onto our other demands only after that,” the farmer leader said.
Farmer union leaders will also sit on a hunger strike between 8 am and 5 pm On December 14 against the new agriculture laws, he said. Leaders from all 32 unions will sit on hunger strike.
Farmer leaders said they have given a call to women to intensify the protest. “We will make all arrangements for basic amenities for women by December 15,” they said.
They also denied any association with farmer leader VM Singh.
Farmer leader Gurnam Singh Charuni announced to begin indefinite hunger strike from December 19 if demands were not met by then.
Pannu alleged the government tried to weaken the agitation, but that the protesting farmers did not let it happen. The farmer leader vowed to keep the protest peaceful.
The government on Friday asked the protesting farmers to be vigilant against their platform being misused, saying some “antisocial” as well as “Leftist and Maoist” elements were conspiring to spoil the atmosphere of the agitation which has been going on for over two weeks now.
Photographs of some protesters at the Tikri border seen holding posters demanding release of activists arrested under various charges had gone viral, prompting Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar to say that these “antisocial elements” are conspiring to spoil the atmosphere of the peasants’ movement under the guise of farmers.
Enacted in September, the three farm laws have been projected by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.
However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of Minimum Support Price and do away with the ‘mandi’ system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates. — TNS/PTI