Talks between farmer leaders, police over Jan 26 tractor rally inconclusive

Farmers' protest. Photo: PTI
Talks between farmer leaders and police over the proposed January 26 tractor rally in the national capital remained inconclusive on Friday as both sides stuck to their stand with the unions saying it was the government's responsibility to maintain peace.

 
According to sources, police officers at the meeting requested the farmers' union leaders to hold their tractor rally outside Delhi, citing security reasons on Republic Day.

 
Following the meeting, a farmer leader said they will take out their rally on the Outer Ring Road in Delhi and will not settle for anything less than that.

 
Joint Commissioner of Police (Northern Range) S S Yadav coordinated the meeting along with other senior police officers. Another round of talks between the police and farmer unions is likely to take place at Singhu Border on Saturday.

 
After the Central government's negotiations with protesting farm unions hit a roadblock on Friday farmer leaders said they will intensify their agitation now and alleged that the government's approach was not right during the meeting.

 
They also said their tractor rally will go ahead as per the plans on January 26 and unions have told the police that it is the government's responsibility to maintain peace.

Coming out of the meeting with the government at Vigyan Bhavan, farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal said, "Tractor march on January 26 will take place as decided by us on Outer Ring Road. We have informed the police it is for the government to ensure that it should be peaceful." The government's negotiations with protesting farm unions hit a roadblock on Friday as the farmer leaders stuck to their demands for a complete repeal of three farm laws they find pro-corporate and a legal guarantee for minimum support price, even as the Centre asked them to reconsider its proposal for putting the Acts on hold for 12-18 months.

 
Unlike the last 10 rounds of talks, the 11th round could not even reach a decision on the next date for the meeting as the government also hardened its position saying it is ready to meet again once the unions agree to discuss the suspension proposal.

 
This followed a big climbdown made by the Centre during the last round when they offered to suspend the laws and form a joint committee to find solutions. 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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