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Opinion

Farmers will intensify uproar if January 4 talks are not fruitful

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Leaders of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the farmers’ collective protesting three recent farm laws, said on Friday they would intensify their agitation if the government did not comply with their demands during the next round of talks.

The leaders said they had prepared their agitation schedule, which would kick in depending on how the talks went on January 4.

Speaking with journalists, the leaders said that the two demands agreed by the Center were “minor”, while the main problems had not yet been resolved. “Abhi tak poonch nikli hai, haathi baki hai (Only a small part has been solved. Big problems remain),” said Yogendra Yadav, one of the leaders.

“I don’t believe this claim (by the government) that 50% of the problems have been solved. The fact is that the government has shown no willingness to repeal the laws and has not agreed in principle on a law on minimum support prices, ”Yadav said.

“If the talks do not progress on January 4, farmers will start marching from their designated camps on January 6, including the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal highway,” he said.

Read more | Farmers continue protests outside Delhi, say no question of withdrawing 2 lawsuits

The boycott of goods and services by certain industrial groups, including gas stations and shopping malls run by them, will continue, said Darshan Pal, a senior leader of the farmers’ agitation. Pal said that all toll gates would be placed on main roads to allow vehicles to pass freely as part of the protests.

Farm leaders also said they would hold a tractor rally on January 6 if the laws are not repealed.

“It seems that the government is taking farmers lightly … If the government does not make a decision on January 4, the farmers will have to make a decision,” said Yudhvir Singh of Bhartiya Kisan Union.

The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), a platform of protesting farmers’ unions, on Friday blamed Niti Aayog’s assessments that India is a food surplus country and government economists using this to argue against the purchase of agricultural products.

“They (Niti Aayog) need to know that India has the highest and growing number of hungry people,” said Avik Saha, secretary of AIKSCC.

India slipped on a global ranking of the prevailing hunger situation this year. While a Global Hunger Index score below 34.9 indicates acute hunger crisis, India’s score has fallen from 38.8 in 2000 to 27.2 in 2020. In 2019, the score was 30.3 .

“This is the result of the utter apathy of the government and the recent Cabinet decision to divert food grains for the production of alcohol by companies is proof of this apathy towards the poor. This is despite claims that food production is higher than required, ”said the AIKSCC.

Read more | Protesting farmers remain in severe Delhi cold as government talks remain stalled

Repeating its demand to repeal the new laws, the AIKSCC said: “The laws will erode food purchases and undermine the public distribution system, replace staple food production with profitable cash crops for corporations, and give corporations freedom to buy. , hoard and black market food. “

The AIKSCC said the New Year was observed by millions of people as they pledged to fight with farmers and against increasing hunger in the country. The agricultural unions have launched one of the largest strikes in decades to demand that the Center repeal the three contentious laws passed by Parliament in September.

Basically, the laws change the way Indian farmers do business by creating free markets, as opposed to a decades-old network of government markets, which allow traders to store essential commodities for future sales and establish a national framework. for contract farming.

These laws are the Agricultural Products Trade and Trade (Promotion and Facilitation) Act of 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Guarantee and the Agricultural Services Act of 2020 and the Essential Products (Amendment) Act. 2020.

Together, the laws will allow large corporations and global supermarket chains to buy directly from farmers, without going through decades-long regulations.

Farmers say the reforms will make them vulnerable to exploitation by large corporations, erode their bargaining power and weaken the procurement system, whereby the government buys staples like wheat and rice at guaranteed rates.

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