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Opinion

Farmers warn Delhi of march if demands are not met

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Thousands of protesting peasants will enter the national capital on January 26, Republic Day, and will hold a parade of tractors if by then their demands to repeal three agricultural laws and a law that guarantee minimum prices are not met, leaders of the Samyukt Kisan. Morcha, a platform for agricultural unions, said on Saturday.

At a press conference in the capital, a seven-member team coordinating the protests laid out a new agenda of agitation that will span 15 days starting January 6, which includes pickets by Raj Bhavans, marches from six blockade sites in the Delhi borders and a “trial”. ”For the tractor parade on January 26.

Farm leaders said they would await the outcome of the January 4 talks with the government and the January 5 Supreme Court hearing on a series of petitions related to the three farm laws.

“This is our ultimatum. If all the problems are not solved and our demands are not met by Republic Day, then we will start entering Delhi. The government says that 50% of the demands have been met. But the government has shown no signs of meeting our greatest demands, ”said Yogendra Yadav, leader of the platform that coordinates the protests.

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.

Read more | ‘Confident Ongoing Agricultural Upheaval Will End’: MoS Kailash Choudhary Ahead of Jan 4 Meeting

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 government’s procurement system, whereby the government buys commodities, such as wheat and rice, at guaranteed rates. .

“Tractors from all neighboring states will start rolling in Delhi if the issues are not resolved. The contingents of all the current blockade sites will begin to move. We will continue our blockade of goods and services from Ambani (Reliance group) and Adani (group), including their products, shopping malls and gas pumps that they own, ”said Darshan Pal, a senior agricultural union leader.

Read more | Farmers protest to hold a tractor parade on January 26 in Delhi if demands are not met

The leaders criticized what they called the government’s propaganda. “The government does not want to withdraw the laws because it has become an ego problem for them. They have tried to cloud our unrest in myriad ways, sometimes calling us Maoists and Khalistanis (a reference to Sikh separatists), ”said Balbir Singh Rajewal.

When asked what the agricultural unions would do if the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the laws, he said: “We are not party to the case. But we will make a decision when the time is right. ”

In the highly anticipated sixth round of talks between the Union government and agricultural unions protesting on December 30, the Center agreed to spare farmers heavy fines for burning crop residues, as provided in an ordinance against pollution, and continue with the current mechanism of granting subsidized energy for agricultural use, according to the demand of farmers.

Hindustan Times

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