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Ahead of talks with Centre, farmers demand special Parliament session to repeal farm laws

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Farmers on Protest

Ahead of the second round of talks with the Centre, the protesting farmers Wednesday demanded that the government call a special session of the Parliament to repeal the contentious farm laws even as Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar assured that all their objections would be addressed.

The fear relating to the weakening of APMC mandis and minimum support price (MSP) regime are among the main factors behind the ongoing protests, as part of which thousands of farmers, primarily from Punjab, have gathered at the capital’s doorstep. Emphasising that their demand for repeal of the new farm laws was “non-negotiable”, the farmers also threatened to block other roads leading to Delhi if their demands are not met.

Addressing a press conference, president of Krantikari Kisan Union Darshan Pal accused the Centre of dividing farmer organisations. “Centre should call a special session of Parliament to repeal the three farm laws,” PTI quoted Singh as saying.

He also called for burning of effigies throughout the country to protest against the Modi government and corporate houses on December 5. Gurnam Singh Chadoni, another farmer leader, said they would take further steps in the coming days to press their demand if the Centre does not withdraw the new laws.

The leaders of around 32 farmer organisations also held a meeting that was also attended by Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait at the Singhu border. “We held talks with Tikait Ji and he told us that he is with us. We are together in this struggle,” ANI quoted Darshan Pal as saying.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah held deliberations with Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday on ways to dispel concerns over the new farm laws.

Tomar and Goyal, along with Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, had met representatives of over 35 farmer organisations on Tuesday. Though the over three-hour-long meeting had failed to yield any result, the two sides had agreed to meet on Thursday.

Ahead of the meeting, Tomar said the government was ready to address the concerns of farmers regarding the farm laws. “We will hold discussions with farmers’ leaders tomorrow. Let’s see to what extent issues can be resolved,” ANI quoted Tomar as saying.

“I appeal to the farmers that the laws are in their interest and the reforms have been done after a long wait, but if they have any objection to it then we are ready to address their concerns,” he added.

The farmers have expressed apprehension that the Centre’s farm laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporates. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has maintained that the new laws would provide farmers with better opportunities and accused the opposition parties of misleading farmers.

Cong workers try to march to Haryana CM’s home, face water cannons
Workers of the Punjab Youth Congress faced water cannons as they tried to march to Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s home in Chandigarh. The police also detained Punjab Youth Congress president Barinder Dhillon and several others.

The activists wanted to ‘gherao’ Khattar’s home to protest against the use of water cannons and teargas against Punjab farmers last week by the Haryana Police, who had tried to stop them from entering the state.

Water Cannon used on members of Punjab Youth Congress while they are going to gherao Haryana CM Khattar’s residence in Chandigarh on farmers’ issue on Wednesday, December 2 2020. (Express photo by Jaipal Singh)

“We came here to wake up the Khattar government,” PTI quoted Dhillon as saying. “We will continue to fight till the farmers get justice,? he added. The roads leading to CM Khattar’s home were sealed and there was heavy police deployment near it.

Transporters threaten to halt operations in North India from Dec 8

The All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), which is the apex body of transporters representing about 95 lakh truckers and other entities, has threatened to halt operations in northern India from December 8 if the government fails to address concerns of the farmers.

“AIMTC has already extended its support to the farmer agitation from day one. We have decided on stopping our operations strategically starting from North India and if the government does not address the issue of the farmers then we may decide to go for shutting down of transport operations nationwide in their support,” AIMTC President Kultaran Singh Atwal told PTI.

Atwal said the road transport fraternity of the country has extended its full support to farmers who are ‘ann daata’ (food providers).

AIMTC Core Committee Chairman Bal Malkit Singh told PTI, “Starting December 8, we will halt the movement of supplies in entire North India including Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. We will then escalate it to entire country if the government fails to address their issues.”

India

Barricades to open on Jan 26 as police allow Tractor Rally

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The Delhi Police on Sunday said that after several round of talks with the farmers groups, it has permitted the tractor rally inside Delhi on January 26.

Police has said that the barricades would be lifted at Singhu, Tikri and Gazipur borders on January 26 after the Republic Day parade is over and the farmers would be allowed to enter upto 100 kilometers within Delhi with their tractors in a circular path on the routes discussed with the farmers.

The route specified is from Singhu Border to Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, Kanjhawala, Bawana to Auchadi. From Tikri border, it will be to Nangloi, Najafgarh, Jharoda, Dhansa, Badli and the KMP and from Gazipur border to Apsara border to Hapur Road.

“We have told the farmers that the rally would start once the Republic Day parade is over. We expect with the cooperation of the farmers the rally would be peaceful,” Special Commissioner of Police, Intelligence, Deependra Pathak, said.

However, the police said that they are on alert after intelligence inputs that various Twitter handles operating from across the border are active to disrupt the rally on January 26.

“According to our intelligence input, 308 Twitter handles have been generated from Pakistan to disrupt the rally to create disturbance. We are also concerned about the security of the rally given the threat perception,” he added.

Meanwhile, several batches of farmers from Punjab and Haryana set out on their tractor-trolleys and other vehicles to take part in the proposed tractor rally on January 26 in the national capital. Tractor-trolleys have now become a common sight at the Singhu border as the farmers have started bringing in the tractors to the protest site from villages in Punjab for the proposed rally.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and other states have been protesting at multiple border points of Delhi at Singhu, Tikri and Gazipur borders since November-end. They are demanding a repeal of the three central farm laws passed by Parliament in September last year.

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India

Soldier injured in Pak ceasefire violation succumbs

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An Army soldier injured in a ceasefire violation by Pakistan on the Line of Control in J&K’s Rajouri district, succumbed to his injuries on Sunday.

An Indian Army statement said, “Pakistan Army had resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violation on the LoC in Sunderbani sector of J&K on January 18 which was responded to strongly by our own troops.”

“In the incident, Naik Nishant Sharma of 10 JAK RIF was critically injured and was under treatment at the command hospital.

“Today the soldier succumbed to injuries. Naik Nishant Sharma was a brave, highly motivated and sincere soldier. The nation will always remain indebted to him for his supreme sacrifice and devotion to duty.”

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CBI arrests labour official in TN in bribery case

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 The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said on Sunday that it had arrested a Regional Labour Commissioner on the charge of demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 30,000.

P Sivarajan, posted as Regional Labour Commissioner (Central) in Madurai, was held along with a private person N Murali after the CBI laid a trap on Saturday and caught them with the bribe amount.

A case was registered after a complaint that Sivarajan was demanding undue advantage from Murali, representing a private company, for issuing labour licence.

Searches were conducted at five places in Chennai and Madurai (Tamil Nadu), including the residence and offices of the accused, said the CBI.

Both the accused were produced in the court of Principal Special Judge for CBI cases, Chennai, and remanded to judicial custody till February 4.

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