Farmer protests: Protesters at Tikri border near Delhi against the three farm laws

New Delhi:
Farmer leaders have asked the government to meet again on December 29 amid protests over new farm laws. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) also lost an ally, Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, today after its chief Hanuman Beniwal joined the farmers in their protest. In a news conference today, farmer leaders said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comment at an event yesterday that only farmers from Haryana and Punjab are against the new laws was “misinformation”. While transferring funds to farmers under a central scheme, PM Modi had said a vast number of farmers want agricultural reforms and to remove middlemen. Thousands of farmers have dug in along the Delhi-Haryana border as they wait for the next round of talks. Delhi Police Commissioner today visited one of the protest sites at Singhu border.

Here’s your 10-point cheat sheet to this big story:

  1. Hanuman Beniwal today said the party was quitting the BJP-led NDA to protest the three agricultural laws. “We won’t stand with anyone who is against farmers,” Mr Beniwal, a Lok Sabha MP from Rajasthan’s Nagaur, said, addressing protesters at the Shahjahanpur-Kheda border in the state’s Alwar district after leading rally against the new laws and promising a march to Delhi.

  2. “PM Modi says only farmers from Haryana and Punjab are protesting, but we have farm union leaders from 10 states here with us right now. We request the government to allow a good environment for discussion. The kind of speech PM Modi gave was not right to create a good environment for talks,” a farmer leader told reporters today at the press conference.

  3. The farmers said the agenda of the meeting on December 29 includes their demand for withdrawing the three farm laws, amendments to an anti-pollution ordinance for Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) to exclude farmers from punishment, and changes in draft Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

  4. At today’s press conference, farmer leader Darshan Pal said they will hold tractor march on the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) highway on December 30. “We request people from Delhi and other parts of country to come and celebrate New Year with protesting farmers,” Mr Pal said.

  5. In his strongest attack on the opposition since the beginning of the farmer protests, PM Modi yesterday said farmers’ lands won’t be taken away and “some people are spreading lies”. Five rounds of talks between the government and farmers have failed so far.

  6. The farmers’ meet began a little after 3 pm today at Singhu border between Delhi and Haryana, the epicentre of the agitation. They later proposed in the letter to the government that the talks be held at 11 am on Tuesday. “You, in your letter, say the government wants to listen to farmers respectfully. If you really want that then stop making misleading remarks regarding our demands and stop using the entire government system to spread negative publicity against the protesting farmers,” the letter read.

  7. The government on Sunday had asked the protesters to choose the date for next round of talks. Referring to the centre’s letter, farmer leader Shiv Kumar Kakka had said: “The new letter is nothing but propaganda against us… to give the impression that we are not interested in talks.”

  8. On Thursday, leaders representing the forty farmers’ unions said the government “is not serious about our demands”. “The government should put repeal of the laws on the agenda for fresh dialogue,” Mr Kakka was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

  9. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday urged farmers to “let the new laws be implemented for a year or so”, adding that the government will be ready to amend them if they are not found to be beneficial to farmers.

  10. A group of BJP leaders in Punjab’s Phagwara had to slip out from the backdoor under police protection on Friday after farmers protesting the central government’s new agricultural laws picketed a hotel that they were holding an event in. A large number of farmers protesting near Delhi borders are from Punjab.

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