New Delhi/Chandigarh, Oct 11
Amid the escalating protests against the new farm laws, the Centre has invited 29 farm unions in Punjab for talks on October 14. A communication from the Secretary (Agriculture), Sanjay Agarwal, to representatives of these unions reads: “Farmers in Punjab are protesting regarding certain issues. The Indian Government has always been very serious about agriculture-related issues. That is why the Centre wants to have a dialogue with you.”
EDITORIAL: Fighting for farmers
Subsequently, these unions have decided to meet at Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall in Jalandhar on October 13, a day prior to the proposed meeting. Secretary of the Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan) Shingara Singh Mann said: “The opinion of different groups would be sought on whether we should negotiate with the Centre or continue our agitation till the controversial farm laws are withdrawn”. Bharti Kisan Union (Qadian) president Harmeet Singh too said the meeting would decide on the next course of action.
Sources said Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar might attend the October 14 meeting “depending on the response to the invitation.” At a meeting with Tomar and Rajnath Singh last week, farmer leaders’ key concern was regarding the minimum support price (MSP). They insisted that procurement below the MSP be made a punishable offence. However, Rajnath maintained that this would hamper the functioning of mandis. — TNS