Will continue fight if laws not repealed, says farm leader Hannan Mollah
All India Kisan Sabha’s general secretary Hannan Mollah said on Friday farmers would continue their fight against the Centre’s contentious farm laws unless they were repealed and that the Republic Day tractor parade will go on as planned. The next round of talks between representatives of the Centre and the farmers is scheduled to be held on January 15 after their eighth round of meeting ended in a stalemate. The Centre told the farmers that it “cannot and will not repeal” the laws while the farmers have made it clear that the demonstrations would not stop until they were repealed.
“There was a heated discussion. We said we don’t want anything other than the repeal of laws. We won’t go to any court. This (repeal) will either be done or we will continue to fight. Our parade on January 26 will go on as planned,” Mollah was quoted as saying by news agency ANI after the eighth round of talks.
Watch: Farmers, Centre hold 8th round of talks to find ‘solutions’ amid protest
According to farm leader Kavitha Kuruganti, farmers shouted slogans inside, saying, “We will either die or win.” Another farm leader Balbir Singh Rajewal said they had also raised the issue of BJP leaders branding the protesters from Punjab ‘Khalistanis’, referencing the Sikh separatist movement. “We told the government that this is highly objectionable. On one hand, the government is negotiating with farmers, while the ruling party’s leaders are trying to tarnish our movement all the time,” he said.
The eight rounds of talks between the farmers’ representatives and the Centre have yielded no solution. However, the Centre had said it will accept two of the farmers’ demands during the talks held on December 30. The government had agreed not to pay direct cash to farmers instead of power subsidy for agricultural use, which the farmers argue would increase power costs for them. It also agreed to keep farmers out of the ambit of an anti-pollution law that prescribes harsh penalties for crop-residue burning.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting around the borders of the national capital for well over a month against the three contentious farm laws passed by the Centre in September last year. Their demands are a repeal of the three laws as well as a legal guarantee for federally fixed minimum support prices. The laws remove restrictions on the purchase and sale of farm produce, lift constraints on stockpiling under the 1955 Essential Commodities Act and enable contract farming based on written agreements.