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Farmers’ groups end discussions with Centre, next meeting on Dec 5

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Farmers and Students

Talks between three union ministers and a representative group of thousands of agitating farmers failed to yield any resolution on Thursday, as the union leaders stuck to their demand for the repeal of new farm laws and even refused the lunch, tea and water offered to them during almost eight-hour-long hectic parleys.

On its part, the government assured the group of nearly 40 farmer leaders that all their valid concerns would be addressed, but the other side flagged several loopholes and deficiencies in the laws, which they said were passed hastily in September.

The Agriculture Ministry tweeted that doubts of farmers were addressed by Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who led the government side at the talks.

Tomar later told reporters that the next meeting will take place on Saturday at 2 pm.

A government source said the meeting would resume on Saturday as no final outcome could be reached due to paucity of time.

Union leaders, who came out of the meeting venue shouting slogans, said the talks remained deadlocked and some of them threatened to boycott any further meetings if no solution was found at Thursday’s meeting.

“Discussions are over from our side. Our leaders have said they will not attend further meetings if a solution is not given today by the government,” said Pratibha Shinde, AIKSCC (All India Kishan Sangharsh Coordination Committee) working group member and president of Lok Sangharsh Morcha, which represents farmers of Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Another farmer leader Kulwant Singh Sandhu said the government made many proposals including on MSP and procurement system, which would be discussed among the farmer organisations on Friday, before the next meeting with the government on Saturday.

Sources said the government gave a detailed presentation on the three new laws and asserted its intent towards the welfare of the farmers.

However, the union leaders rejected the government’s position at their fourth round of talks with three Union ministers at Vigyan Bhawan here. Besides Tomar, the government side included Railways and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, who is also an MP from Punjab.

The 40 farmer leaders present at the meeting refused the lunch offered by the government and preferred to eat the food ferried in a van from the Singhu border, where thousands of their colleagues are sitting in protest against the new agri laws.

They also did not accept tea and water offered to them during the meeting, which began around mid-day.

The previous round of talks had taken place on December 1, but had ended in a stalemate even after three hours of discussion as farmers’ groups rejected the government’s suggestion of a new committee to look into issues raised by farmers protesting against the new laws.

The government had rejected the demand for repealing the laws and asked the farmers’ bodies to identify specific issues related to the newly enacted Acts and submit those by December 2 for consideration and discussion on Thursday.

Enacted in September, the laws have been presented by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector by removing middlemen and allowing farmers to sell anywhere in the country.

However, the protesting farmers have been worried that the new laws will eliminate the safety cushion of a Minimum Support Price (MSP) and procurement system, while rendering ineffective the mandi system that ensures earnings for various stakeholders in the farm sector.

On Wednesday, agitating farmers demanded that the Centre convene a special session of Parliament and repeal the new farm laws as they threatened to block roads in Delhi and “take more steps” if it failed to do so.

During their marathon meeting on Thursday, farmers’ leaders told the government to focus on resolving the issues instead of trying to be a good host by offering lunch, Shinde said.

“How can we have lunch offered by the government when our fellow farmers are sitting on roads,” said Shinde, whose organisation is among the 40 farmers’ groups engaged in the talks.

Thousands of farmers have been camping at the Singhu and Tikri borders of the national capital for the last eight days as part of their protest against the laws.

India

‘Jai Hind’, Modi wishes nation on Republic Day

Thereafter, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries will head to the saluting dais at Rajpath to witness the 90-minute-long Republic Day parade ceremony.

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Narendra Modi

New Delhi, Jan 26 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday extended his greetings to the citizens of India as the country marked its 72nd Republic Day.

In a tweet both in English and Hindi, the Prime Minister said: “Wishing all the people of India a Happy Republic Day… Jai Hind.”

On this day in 1950, the Constitution of India came into force.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to visit the National War Memorial near the India Gate later in the day, from where he will lead the nation in paying solemn tributes to the fallen heroes by laying a wreath.

Thereafter, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries will head to the saluting dais at Rajpath to witness the 90-minute-long Republic Day parade ceremony.

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India

Tractor rally: farmers breach Delhi’s Red Fort in huge protest

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Red Fort

Thousands of farmers protesting at agriculture reforms have fought through police barricades and tear gas to enter Delhi’s historic Red Fort complex.

They were on foot and in tractors – part of a huge rally that was planned to coincide with India’s Republic Day.

Many protesters diverted from agreed routes and clashes broke out with police. One protester has died.

Mobile internet services have been suspended in parts of Delhi as security forces scramble to restore order.

The government says the reforms that spurred the protests will liberalise the agriculture sector, but farmers say they will lose income.

Tens of thousands of them have been striking on the outskirts of Delhi since November, demanding the laws be repealed. They rejected a government offer to put the laws on hold last week.

This is one of the longest farmers-led protests India has ever seen, pitting the community against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party-led (BJP) government.

How did the protests turn violent?

Police agreed to allow Tuesday’s rally after several rounds of talks on the condition that it would not interrupt the annual Republic Day parade, which takes place in central Delhi. They gave farmers specific routes for their rally, which would largely be confined to the outskirts.

But farmers instead converged on the iconic 16th Century fortress. They breached security and clambered onto the walls and domes of the fort, even hoisting flags alongside the national flag.

By Tuesday afternoon, police said they had removed protesting farmers from the Red Fort complex, but the situation remains tense.

“We came here to deliver a message to the Modi government, our job is done. We will go back now,” one protesting farmer told NDTV.

While farmers at several entry points appear to have followed the agreed routes, a section of protesters broke through police barricades earlier in the day.

They marched towards central Delhi, where India’s parliament is located.

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Farmers’ demonstrations in Delhi turn violent as protester clash with the police

Violence broke out in Delhi on Republic Day as protesters in farmers’ tractor rally marched into the national capital, breaking barricades and clashing with the police. The Delhi Police resorted to tear gas shells and lathi-charge to contain the situation. Deviating from the designated route, a section of farmers entered the Red Fort and hoisted flags

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Red Fort Farmers

Violence marred farmers’ tractor rally on Tuesday as protesters clashed with police at multiple places in Delhi and entered the iconic Red Fort.

Protesting farmers deviated from pre-decided routes, which prompted police personnel to resort to lathicharge and tear gas. Many cops were injured in the violence that broke out amid the 72nd Republic Day celebrations in India.

Protesting farmers at Delhi border points clashed with police early Tuesday morning as they broke barricades to force their way into the city much ahead of the time the cops had told them to enter. Thousands of farmers entered Delhi from Ghazipur, Singhu and Tikri border points amid heavy deployment of police.

Delhi Police had on Sunday allowed the tractor rally after the annual Republic Day parade. The protesters were told they can’t disrupt the celebrations at Rajpath even as the farmers insisted their parade will be “peaceful”.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at several Delhi border points since November 28, demanding a repeal of three farm laws and a legal guarantee on minimum support price for their crops.

Enacted in September last year, the three laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.

However, the protesting farmers have expressed their apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of MSP (minimum support price) and do away with the “mandi” (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.

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