With ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ placards, irate farmers put up a silent protest at the meeting with the government over the new farm laws. The core issue of farmers has been scrapping the three laws, which, even after five rounds of talks, yielded no result.
Four hours into today’s meeting, farmer representatives went on a brief silent protest, refusing to talk and only using the ‘Yes/No’ placards to communicate with the centre’s panel which included Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. There has been rising displeasure over the talks among farmers who insist the new laws be repealed even as the centre said a new proposal would be placed before them after discussions within the government.
The farmers have agreed to a sixth round of talks scheduled for Wednesday. 40 representatives of various farmer organisations attended today’s talks at Vigyan Bhawan.
Farmer leaders even brought their own food, the second time this week, and refused to eat lunch offered by the government. They also carried their own tea and water from their langar at Singhu border, one of the protest sites.
Angry farmers have, however, said that on Tuesday they will block all roads to Delhi and highways across the country to increase pressure on the government. Thousands of farmers have been camping around the capital for over a week protesting against the new laws braving barricades, water cannons and tear gas.
Sources have said the government is firm on backing the laws. But they are considering other possibilities that would help the farmers come on board. These could include a written assurance about the continuance of the Minimum Support Price, the biggest concern of the farmers.
Today’s talks – the third this week – began after a high-level meet between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior cabinet ministers, including Home Minister Amit Shah. Sources said PM Modi, who defended his government’s laws at a public event in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi on Sunday, was briefed about the protest and the status of negotiations.