Indian govt hardens stance as deadlock continues after 7 rounds of talks with farmers

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Punjab, Dec 04 (ANI): Students raised slogans and held placards as they showed their solidarity with farmers during a protest against farm law, in Jalandhar, Punjab, in December. (ANI Photo)

Government has rejected the possibility of a repeal, while farmers have threatened a tractor rally on Republic Day on Jan 26.

The deadlock over the repeal of farm laws continues as the seventh round of discussions between the representatives of the protesting farmers and the central government failed to reach a compromise. According to agency reports, the government have rejected the possibility that the farm laws may be repealed, and has suggested a panel to carry the matter forward. The farmers also stayed firm on their demand for the repeal. 

Meanwhile, farmers protesting at Delhi’s borders have warned the government they will hold a “tractor rally” on security-sensitive Republic Day if their demands are not met. “Our demand is the repeal of the laws. We will not agree to any alternatives such as the setting of the committee,” Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait told  PTI.  On Republic Day, which is coming up on January 26, traffic on many routes in central New Delhi is barred to allow parades and spectacles, and security is high.

Sources said that during the discussion, the government proposed to discuss the farmers’ demand for a legal guarantee of support price for crops but the farmers’ representative leaders persisted in the repeal of farm laws to be the focus. The two groups have agreed to meet again on January 8. 

During the last round of meetings, the government said both the parties had come to an understanding on two demands of the farmers: 

  • Withdrawal of Electricity Amendment Bill, and 
  • Penal provisions for stubble burning in the Air Quality Commission Ordinance. 

The protests by farmers, particularly from the northern states of Punjab and Haryana, but with support from those in many other states, is ongoing against three farm laws passed in the Parliament in September 2020. Farmer unions describe these laws as anti-farm laws and state it will leave them at the mercy of the corporates. The government of India promises to make the process of selling farmers’ produce effortless for them and says the protests are based on misinformation.

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