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Withdraw farm laws, says BJP ally in Rajasthan; threatens to quit alliance

BJP ally Hanuman Beniwal’s threat to exit the NDA comes a day after Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to scrap the three farm laws.

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Hanuman Beniwal’s Rashtriya Loktantrik Party that partnered with the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2019 on Monday told Home Minister Amit Shah that his party would reconsider its partnership with the BJP if the Centre did not withdraw the three farm laws. Beniwal also demanded that the Centre implement the recommendations of the Swaminath Commission and hold dialogue with farmers in Delhi in the right spirit.

Hanuman Beniwal, who was once in the Bharatiya Janata Party, floated his party before the 2018 state elections and became part of the National Democratic Alliance right before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Beniwal won the Lok Sabha election from Nagaur in 2019. His party had won 3 seats in the state elections the previous year and had put up a tough fight in quite a few others.

The jat leader’s threat to consider exiting the NDA is seen to indicate the discomfort within the regional party over the protests that erupted against the three farm laws enacted by the BJP-led coalition at the Centre that change the way India’s farmers do business by creating free markets, as opposed to a network of decades-old, government-controlled agricultural markets.

The laws allow businesses to freely trade farm produce outside the so-called government-controlled “mandi system”, permit private traders to stockpile large quantities of essential commodities for future sales and lay down new rules for contract farming.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior ministers have tried to dispel concerns around the three laws, telling that these had opened up new opportunities for cultivators.

But leaders of farmers who have been marching to national capital Delhi against the law aren’t convinced and have insisted that their agitation will continue. Thousands of farmers have been camping on the borders of Delhi and in the city’s Burari grounds since November 27, a day after their Delhi Chalo agitation was launched from Punjab. The protests have since then spread to pockets in other states as well.

In a string of tweets that he followed up with a letter to Amit Shah, Hanuman Beniwal said his party would be forced to reconsider its alliance if prompt action is not taken since farmers and the youth formed the core support base of his party.

In a video message earlier, Beniwal said the RLP had protested the three farm laws through social media and on the streets. “Today, I have written to Shah that if the laws aren’t withdrawn, then we will reconsider our alliance with NDA,” he said.

“We are with the farmers and if required will march to Delhi. The PM and Shah should hold dialogue with farmers, and provide space to hold dharna in the capital. If any kind of ill-treatment is done with the farmers, then the farmers of the entire country will be on streets to gherao Delhi,” he said.

Beniwal’s tweets came a day after chief minister Ashok Gehlot wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding withdrawal of the farm laws.

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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