Govt willing to hold farm laws for 1.5 yrs, farmers say 'will revert'

New Delhi: Farmers display placards during their ongoing protest against new farm law, at Ghazipur border in New Delhi, Tuesday, Jan 19, 2021. (PTI Photo/Vijay Verma)
Farmers unions said on Wednesday they would get back to the government about its proposal to suspend three contested agriculture laws for one and half years, marking the outcome of a tenth round of talks between the two sides. 

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Railways, Commerce and Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, who is an MP from Punjab, held talks with representatives of 40 farmer unions at Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi.

"The government proposed to suspend the farm laws for one and a half years. We rejected the proposal but since it has come from the government, we will meet tomorrow and deliberate over it," said Joginder Singh Ugrahan, president of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan), which is part of the talks. The two sides will meet again on January 22.

 
“During discussions, we said that government is ready to put on hold the farm laws for one or one and half year. I’m happy that farmer unions have taken this very seriously and said that they would consider it tomorrow and convey their decision on January 22,” said Agriculture Minister Singh Tomar after the meeting.


Previous rounds of talks have so far failed to mollify tens of thousands of farmers who have been camping out on the outskirts of Delhi for more than two months.

The government has been urging the farmers, who are mostly from Punjab and Haryana, to end their protest over the laws introduced in September, but the farmers say they will not relent on their demands, as the bills are designed to benefit private buyers at the expense of growers.

The Supreme Court last week ordered an indefinite stay on the implementation of new agricultural laws and appointed a four-member panel to hear farmers’ objections. The court on Wednesday blasted critics for "casting aspersions" about the panel, saying there was no question of the members being biased as they had no power to decide about the laws.

"We gave (the committee the) power to hear everyone and submit report to us. Where is the question of bias? (There is) no need to brand people and malign them, and on top of it cast aspersion on (the) court," said Chief Justice SA Bobde.

The court said it will not pass orders on the planned tractor rally on Republic Day in New Delhi and is the police that must decide. Farmers unions have said they peacefully march to Delhi if their talks with the government over the three laws fail.

(With inputs from PTI, ANI and Reuters.)



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