Thousands of farmers have been protesting near Delhi borders since last week.

New Delhi:
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will hold talks today with the farmers protesting in and around Delhi since last week, sources have said, adding that he will meet Home Minister Amit Shah and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar at BJP chief JP Nadda’s house this morning ahead of the discussions. This is the second meeting between the top BJP leaders in less than 48 hours amid massive protests against contentious farm laws. The Home Minister cancelled his visit to the Border Raising Day event this morning. “An important meeting has come up,” government sources said. The government will try to assure the farmers today about the new agricultural laws, according to sources, and dispel rumours over the minimum support price for their produce. The laws will not be repealed, the protesters are likely to be told.

Here are 10 developments in this big story:

  1. Agricultural Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Monday invited the farmers for talks today, two days ahead of the scheduled meet as he cited coronavirus and cold. “On November 13, we had decided we will meet on December 3, but farmers are in a mood to protest. It is cold and there is coronavirus. Hence we invite the farmers at Vigyan Bhawan (in Delhi) on December 1 at 3 pm. We request you to leave the protest and find a solution through discussion,” he said last night. Mr Tomar this morning will meet Home Minister Amit Shah for the third time in less than 48 hours after farmers threatened to block five entry points to Delhi.

  2. This morning, the farmers said they will not attend the talks if all 500 organisations that are part of protests are not invited for talks. “There are more than 500 groups of farmers in the country, but the government has invited only 32 groups for talks today. We will not be going for talks till all groups are called,” Sukhvinder S Sabhran, Joint Secretary, Punjab Kisan Sangarsh Committee, was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

  3.  Prime Minister Narendra defended farm laws on Monday again as he said: “New laws don’t stop old system. If someone thinks that the earlier system is better, how is this law stopping anyone?” He reassured farmers that the new open market system will not mean the end to the traditional mandis and minimum support prices fixed by the government. The Prime Minister on Sunday on monthly radio address- Mann Ki Baat – had said that the centre’s new laws have “opened more opportunities” for the farmers, and have fulfilled their long-pending demands. 

  4. On Sunday, the farmers had said they will block five entry points to Delhi: Sonipat, Rohtak, Jaipur, Ghaziabad-Hapur, and Mathura. The protest, which has been planned for over two months, has the support of around 3 lakh farmers, it has been claimed. “We have a one-point demand – to repeal the three new farm laws. That’s the only discussion we want. Centre trying to divert our attention with small talk, hence the resistance,” Hannan Mollah, one of the leaders, told NDTV today. 

  5. As farmers continue to camp around Delhi borders, key roads near neighbouring Haryana remain closed. The Delhi Police has told commuters to take alternate routes as Sighu Border and Tikri border remain shut.

  6. All khaps of Haryana have unanimously decided to support the farmers’ protest and will proceed towards Delhi today. “We request the centre to re-consider farm laws. Everyone has a right to express themselves,” Sombir Sangwan, Haryana Khap Pradhan and Dadri MLA, was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

  7. On Saturday, Amit Shah had said the government was ready to deliberate on “every problem and demand” of the protesters. The Home Minister, however, had said the protest will have to be shifted to a designated venue for early discussions with the government. As the farmers refused the offer, top BJP leaders held a late-night meeting at JP Nadda’s house on Sunday to discuss the protests, sources said.

  8. A case has been filed by Delhi Police on the clash at the Singhu border in Delhi, including rioting and damage to government property. The case was filed at the Alipur police station under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including obstruction to public servants while performing their duty.

  9. One of the protesters died on Sunday night after suffering a heart attack — the second since the farmers’ march to Delhi started last week. Gajjan Singh from a Khattra, a village in Ludhiana district of Punjab, died at Tikri border. A day earlier, another volunteer who had come to help farmers with vehicle repairs had died; he was burnt alive as his car caught fire overnight when he was sleeping.

  10. Thousands of farmers, who have braved water cannons, tear gas and police barricades, began their protest last week against the new farm laws, aimed at bringing reforms by doing away with middlemen and improving farmers’ earnings by allowing them to sell produce anywhere in the country. Farmers and opposition parties allege that the laws will deprive the farmers of guaranteed minimum price for their produce and leave them at the mercy of corporates . Ex-Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, BSP chief Mayawati, Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav have tweeted in support of the farmers.


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