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Opinion

Farmers’ protest: ministers gathered, all eyes on the keys meet today

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A day before the crucial talks resumed, the Union’s top ministers met on Wednesday to exchange ideas on how to end a protest by farmers who have gathered on the Delhi borders to demand the repeal of three laws. Litigation aimed at opening up agricultural trade, such as the City authorities rushed to smooth traffic interrupted by the massive show of force by North Indian growers.

Union Interior Minister Amit Shah, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, and Railways, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal gathered at Shah’s residence on the day a blockade caused by the farmers’ protest at two key border points connecting Delhi with Haryana entered its sixth day. and the gathering of protesters on the Noida border led to the closure of a main road link to Uttar Pradesh.

“(In the previous round of talks) farmers clashed and party leaders trust the Shah to do so,” said a senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) official aware of the discussion between central ministers, referring to a dialogue between agricultural leaders and the government on Tuesday. No consensus could be reached at that meeting, but the interested parties agreed to carry out the dialogue.

Shah was expected to meet with Punjab’s chief minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday morning, ahead of the Center’s talks with agricultural leaders, according to PTI. Thousands of Punjab farmers have joined the protests.

As the focus shifted to Thursday’s meeting, farm leaders appeared to have hardened their position, demanding that the Center convene a special session of Parliament to repeal recently enacted farm laws, which they say will negatively affect the minimum price system of support (MSP) offered to growers. prices guaranteed by the government, and eventually helping corporate entities.

At the Singhu border, which opens to Sonepat and is one of the two blocked points on the Haryana border, the farmers’ leader, Darshan Pal, accused the Center of dividing the agricultural groups. “The Center should convene a special session of Parliament to repeal the three agricultural laws,” he said, adding that the protesters will continue their agitation until the laws are repealed. In addition to Singhu, farmers have also been camping at the Tikri border point, which opens to Bahadurgarh, since November 27.

The blockade has affected the supply of fruits and vegetables to Delhi from Haryana, Punjab and the states further north. Opening another front, transport unions threatened on Wednesday to halt the movement of essential goods in the northern states of India starting next week, and then across the country if the government failed to comply with farmers’ demands. .

A large part of farmers have demanded the repeal of the three laws enacted by Parliament in September, which together allow agribusinesses to market agricultural products without restrictions, allow private traders to store large quantities of essential commodities for future sales and set new rules. for contract farming. Farmers say the reforms will make them vulnerable to exploitation by large corporations and weaken the government’s MSP system.

In conversations on Tuesday, protesters rejected a proposal from the Center for a five-member committee of officials, economists and farmers’ representatives to hold future negotiations after union leaders from 35 Punjab- and Haryana-based agricultural organizations met. with Tomar, Goyal and the Minister of State for Trade Som Prakash for more than three hours.

The farmers say they also want a legal guarantee for MSP, emphasizing that they have marched to Delhi for a “decisive battle”.

“The party’s high command has already issued statements to assure farmers about the continuation of the MSP,” said the BJP official quoted above.

He was referring to the Center’s outreach attempts led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has said the reforms will not harm the MSP system, add “new dimensions” to agriculture and break the decades-long “shackles” of agricultural trade.

That the government is doing its best to reach a consensus is evident in the separate negotiations it held with the Tikait faction of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) farmers group, which dominates western Uttar Pradesh.

As the impasse continued, protests in Mayur Vihar, on the border with UP, led to the closure of a crucial route connecting the national capital with the state for the second day in a row on Wednesday. “The Chilla border on the Noida link road is closed to traffic … People are advised to avoid the Noida link road … and instead use NH 24 and DND,” tweeted police from traffic.

One of the roadways on the route was opened in the afternoon, allowing travelers coming from Delhi to enter Noida, while protesters continued to sit on the other side of the road amid heavy police deployment.

The Kalandi Kunj border connecting Noida to South Delhi was briefly closed around 4:30 pm after some 100 farmers on tractors arrived there and tried to enter Delhi. The police barricaded and deployed additional personnel at the site, and convinced them to return to Noida.

Meanwhile, several traders from three major agricultural commodity market committees (APMC) in Delhi, Azadpur, Ghazipur and Okhla, said that a large number of them had stopped shipping fruits and vegetables to other states temporarily and were focusing only on local supplies to keep prices stable. in Delhi. Fruit and vegetable arrivals to Azadpur have dropped significantly from around 11,500 trucks per day on average for this time of year to around 6,000 trucks per day, said Adil Khan, president of Azadpur APMC.

Anil Malhotra, an Azadpur-based wholesale trader, said: “… traders are running out of stock. And arrivals are very low. So a supply and demand gap will soon emerge, probably in another three or four days, if the borders remain locked. With that, prices will go up. “

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