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Farmers at UP Gate, Chilla border reject govt proposal of temporary suspension of farm laws; protest to continue

Noida/Ghaziabad: Protesting farmers stationed at border areas of Ghaziabad and Noida refused to end their agitation, saying they have not accepted the government’s offer of temporary suspension of the three farm laws
By Peeyush Khandelwal and Shafaque Alam
PUBLISHED ON JAN 21, 2021 11:51 PM IST

Noida/Ghaziabad: Protesting farmers stationed at border areas of Ghaziabad and Noida refused to end their agitation, saying they have not accepted the government’s offer of temporary suspension of the three farm laws. They said they will not budge till the government completely withdraws these laws which “aim to benefit corporates and not farmers”.

During the tenth round of talks on Wednesday, the government had proposed to stay the implementation of the three laws for one-and-a-half years and the farmer union leaders are to reply to the proposal during the next meeting scheduled on January 22. In the wake of this offer, a detailed meeting was held at the Singhu Border to discuss the proposal.

On Thursday as well, farmer union leaders held day-long discussions over the government’s proposal.

“We still demand repeal of the three farm laws and a new law on minimum support price (MSP). All protest sites are together and core-committee members are busy discussing the proposal at the Singhu border. They will decide about the reply to be given to the government on January 22. The government has given a proposal and we have not accepted it,” said Rakesh Tikait, farmer leader and national spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), which is stationed at UP Gate.

He said that the proposed tractor parade on Republic Day will be held. The farmers had proposed that the route will be the outer Ring Road of Delhi. Members of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU)-Bhanu faction on Thursday rehearsed for the rally.

Farmers have been stationed at the Chilla border and the Dalit Prerna Sthal in Noida, and the UP Gate in Ghaziabad since last year demanding a complete rollback of the three new farm laws.

The Supreme Court on January 12 had stayed the implementation of the three laws till further orders and also directed for the formation of a committee.

Protest sites were abuzz Thursday morning with farmers holding discussions in their tents, on their tractors and trolleys and on roads.

“The committee during its meeting decided that the proposal put forward by the government is not acceptable. The farmers’ union leaders will meet government representatives on Friday and will convey the decision taken today by our committee. Majority of farmers protesting at different sites were demanding repeal of laws and new law on MSP,” said Jagtar Singh Bajwa, a farmer leader from Uttarakhand who attended the core-committee meeting at Singhu border on Thursday.

“It was also decided that the tractor parade will be held and some committees have also been formed to take up preparations,” he added.

Rakesh Kumar, pradhan of Parsauli village in Mathura, who had come with a group of villagers, said, “We are of the view that the government wants us to end the protest and return. If the protest is called off, farmers will disintegrate and after one-and-a-half years, it will become difficult to bring them again at a common platform, in case the government wishes to implement the laws again”. He said he donated 3.51 lakh to the protesting farmers at UP Gate.

“Farmers should not go back. With the proposal it seems that the government is feeling the heat of such massive protests. People are supporting farmers like anything. On Wednesday we went across to our village and people donated 10, 20, 50 and even more as per their capacity. So, the farmers also have the support of people in villages and must continue the protest,” said Leela Dhar, a 75-year-old member of Rakesh Kumar’s group from Mathura.

At the Chilla border, Thakur Bhanu Pratap, president BKU-Bhanu, said he wonders why the government suspended these laws for only one-a-half-year years instead of withdrawing them permanently. “The Supreme Court staying the implementation of the contentious farm laws is a clear message for the government that these laws are not good for farmers. If our petition had no merit, the apex court would have rejected it. The government should admit that these laws were wrongly framed and that they should be withdrawn,” he said.

He said he had sent a team to Singhu border for Thursday’s meeting. “We have received information that the Sankyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farm unions, has rejected the government’s proposal. I am yet to meet my team members who had gone to a meeting held in Delhi. But it is now clear that the protest will continue till the farm laws are repealed,” he said.

Master Shyoraj Singh, BKU-Lokshakti president, said the government had proposed to form a committee in the initial meetings as well. “The government should repeal the laws and promise MSPs on crops. If the government does not agree, we are resolved to fight longer,” he said. He said that the farmers are readying for the tractor rally on Republic Day.

He said that as of now, the protest will continue. “We want the government to completely cancel these laws,” he said.

Gaurav Tikait, another BKU leader at UP Gate and president of the youth wing, said that farmers are now fighting for their honour.

“There were many terms used against farmers and now it is a fight for our honour. The government’s proposal seems vague and intended to derail the agitation. Every common farmer understands this. Even if not for the farm laws, farmers were inclined to hold protests demanding a new law on MSP and implementation of the Swaminathan Committee report. So, we are inclined to continue,” he added.

The UP Gate has many camps run by NGOs, social organisations and other entities. A group of veterans from the Indian Army and other paramilitary forces is also camping at the site since December 16.

“It seems that the government is under pressure and these are positive signs. What we feel is that the farmers should continue their protest and the government will finally budge and take back three laws. So, there should be no going back home till the three laws are rolled back,” said Manidev Chaturvedi, a retired inspector from the Border Security Force.

Retired Hawaldar Desa Singh, who is from Pilibhit and served during the 1965 and 1971 wars, came to UP Gate to support the farmers, saying that farmers have already braved adverse weather and stiff opposition from the government so far.

“Now, there is no going back. If farmers return, the protest will disintegrate. There should be a resolution and there is no going back,” he added.

Subedar Major (retired) JP Mishra, the founder and national president of the Veterans’ Association, said that the conditions farmers were facing were dangerous.

“If the new laws get implemented, the corporates will get a better hold on them. We came here as most of us are from farming backgrounds. Our group has people who have joined from different cities in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Haryana,” he added at UP Gate.

A farmer, Kali Charan Chaturvedi from Firozabad, had come to the Chilla border protest site with a ‘gada’ (blunt mace) at the Chilla border. “Gada was Hanuman’s weapon which used for victory over Lanka. I have planned to use the gada for farmers’ victory against farm laws,” he said.

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